The UK is taking steps to ensure that Gibraltar will be able to trade with the UK on the same basis when the UK leaves the EU (expected in March 2019). A substantial proportion (up to 90%) of Gibraltar’s financial services sector trade within the EU is with the UK due to Gibraltar’s offshore services in the banking and insurance sectors. The Gibraltar government says that one in five British drivers insure their cars with firms based in Gibraltar and that the services companies employ thousands of people in the UK.
Gibraltar is therefore a significant consideration in the Brexit negotiations and the Gibraltar business community has been concerned to achieve certainty about the nature of its relationship with the UK after Brexit. As matters currently stand, Gibraltar will lose all its current rights on Brexit, unless a deal is achieved to preserve the status quo.
The strength of the UK and Gibraltar’s special relationship has been demonstrated by the recent joint ministerial council between Brexit minister Robin Walker and the chief minister for Gibraltar Fabian Picardo. It was agreed that Gibraltar financial services firms would be granted access to the UK markets until 2020. This will give the UK government time to work closely with the government of Gibraltar to design a replacement framework, to include continued high standards of regulation, based on information-sharing, transparency and regulatory co-operation.
The discussions also set out the manner in which the UK and Gibraltar will collaborate in other areas such as online gaming, transportation, the environment, healthcare and higher education.