UK and Gibraltar Announce Agreement on Gambling Services
The government of the United Kingdom agreed to allow Gibraltar-based gambling and financial firms to continue to offer services freely in the UK until 2020 at least. The pledge stands, whether a no-deal Brexit happens or not.
The announcement came from the governments of the UK and Gibraltar on Thursday amidst mounting concerns that by Gibraltar firms that they might lose access to UK customers, once European Union legal frameworks no longer apply to British residents.
The assurance was designed to allay fears by the many Gibraltar-based financial services providers, but includes the numerous UK gambling firms located in Gibraltar. Due to other regulations, gambling operators had more security than the financial services providers, though the announcement comes as a relief to gaming operators and the Gibraltar Gaming Authority, which collects a large percentage of the Rock’s revenues.
Gibraltar is a territory with only 32,000 residents.
Fabian Picardo Statement
Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, said of the agreement, “Great care has rightly been taken by the UK and Gibraltar to ensure regulatory standards will be maintained between us in a manner that will be designed to assure customer protection and equivalence on regulatory outcomes going forward.”
“Today our bilateral relationship grows stronger and the terms for it to endure are further cemented as we realise the commitment to maintain and enhance market access for Gibraltar service providers into the UK post-Brexit.”
The agreement spans a wide number of industries and issues. British citizens who reside in Gibraltar will continue to have access to the UK’s higher education at the same rates as UK residents. Reciprocal arrangements on health services were agreed upon, too.
The two governments also agreed to enhance cooperation on environmental issues and fisheries. The arrangements between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on post-Brexit policies came after months of negotiations by the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), which was formed to include representatives of both governments.
Gibraltar faces an uncertain future, because Spain has said it would veto any attempt by Gibraltar to leave the European Union. The Brexit vote applied to the United Kingdom, but not its overseas territory. For centuries, Spain has wanted to reacquire Gibraltar, which sits at the southern tip of Spain, facing the channel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Because Gibraltar was one of the famous “choke points” that the Royal Navy used to maintain the British Empire’s dominant strategic position in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, that was never a realistic possibility. These days, Gibraltar and the UK have two years of political, legal, cultural, and financial relationships, so most residents of Gibraltar do not want to rejoin Spain. Thus, Spain uses its influence to make the ties more difficult.
90% of Gibraltar’s Business
Under the European Union rules, the United Kingdom represents over 90% of the market accounts for all business conducted in Gibraltar. The UK leaving the European Union (and Gibraltar staying) would be an unmitigated disaster for businesses in Gibraltar, if no agreements were in place.
The guarantee lasts throughout 2020, irrespective of the Brexit negotiations between the government of the UK and the EU Commission. The British government said it would work closely with the Government of Gibraltar to design a “replacement framework” beyond 2020. The British officials said that framework would include arrangements on information-sharing, transparency, and regulatory cooperation. The two hope to share standards on regulation and enforcement, too.
Robin Walker on Gibraltar
Robin Walker, the UK’s Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, said the agreement underscored “the strong, historic, and valued UK-Gibraltar relationship.”
Walker added about the agreement, “Today we have agreed a positive package deal on issues surrounding our exit from the EU, once again demonstrating that we stand shoulder to shoulder with Gibraltarians in our unwavering commitment to the UK-Gibraltar relationship.”
Gibraltar was seized by British forces in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession. It was made an official part of the British Empire in 1713, due to the Treaty of Ultrecht. It remains part of the British Overseas Territories to this day after rejecting union with Spain in 1967 and 2002 referendums, though its status in the Brexit remains undetermined.
John Glen Gives Reassurances
John Glen, the UK’s Economic Secretary of the Treasury, said of Thursday’s agreement, “We know the people and businesses of Gibraltar have been asking for certainty, and we have heard them. We are ensuring that Gibraltar’s access to UK markets will continue unchanged until 2020, even in the unlikely event of no deal being reached.”
Glen added, “This will give us the time we need to work with the Government of Gibraltar to design a new, modernised agreement, based on similar, high standards of regulation and enforcement.”