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Editorial Comment
Sovereignty overshadows border issues
When The Sun tabloid newspaper front page - projected on The Rock for a short while, (apparently without government knowledge) - “Hands off our Rock” - it sent a clear message yet again that Gibraltar is not for sale to the
Spanish! The feelings of Gibraltar residents, last tested in a referendum 15 years
ago, are overwhelming plain; they are British - after more than 300 years as such – and want to remain so, come what may. They are not up for being used as a bargaining chip in negotiations for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in two years’ time.
So no-one should doubt the strength of feeling when the European Council - to Britain and Gibraltar’s complete surprise - agreed that no Brexit deal can go ahead unless Spain is content – a seemingly slam dunk veto that could sink the whole Brexit talks. This remember, is a EU in which Gibraltar voted, by 96%, to remain!
eGaming leaders meeting on The Rock for an industry seminar voted a free-flowing border to be by far the greatest issue – way behind open business access - a sentiment reflected strongly in a government study of the ‘Brexit effect’. It pointed to the 10,470 workers who cross the border daily and declared: “A frontier which lacked the necessary fluidity for people to be able to access their places of work would therefore put directly at risk the jobs of 40% of the entire Gibraltar workforce [26,000+ people].”
That report, presented to the House of Lords EU Committee earlier
this year, noted that 30% of Gibraltar’s finance centre jobs and a whopping 60% in gaming were filled by residents of Spain! And, crucially, both business sectors together account for half of the total Gibraltar economy.
As the government fully accepts, it makes good business sense for firms to consider their options, even possible relocation, if Brexit negotiations make remaining based in, and operating from, Gibraltar difficult.
According to lawyer Peter Isola, there are guarantees for reasonable continued access enshrined in EU laws concerning external borders, as Gibraltar will become with Spain post-Brexit. There were “good logical reasons to be cautiously optimistic”, he felt, but of course, there are similar border fluidity guarantees in place now even with EU membership – and that hasn’t stopped Spain severely disrupting the flow of pedestrians and traffic whenever it feels like it.
No wonder Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, reflects on Spanish past form.
Spain continues to present, what some might regard as a “reasonable” offer, to share sovereignty of Gibraltar with the UK even though Spain gave The Rock to Britain in perpetuity. Yet, according to an April YouGov poll, one in three people in Britain would be prepared to cede at least some sovereignty over Gibraltar for a better Brexit deal!
Maybe it’s time for Gibraltar to up its game and present the negative effects of such a deal beyond the completely understandable and impassioned “No way José” response that rejects any consideration of a compromise. To be sure, there will be powerful reasons why any such arrangement is out of the question.
Ray Spencer
Published by Gibraltar International Publications Ltd. 21 Bell Lane PMB 104, PO Box 561 Gibraltar
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4	Gibraltar International
News	p6
Cruise growth provides opportunity regardless of Brexit
Pensions	p8
Gibraltar’s New Pension Regime
Banking	p10
Private bank customers get digital as tax disclosure becomes automatic
eGaming	p14
Laws to safeguard cross border access for workers, as more firms move in
May/June/July 2017
Volume 23/Number 2
Profile	p18
Competition prompts moves to maintain top position
Business	p22
China focus - Gibraltar business looks east
Business	p24
A Historic Delegation to the StartUp Nation
Trusts & Company Management	p26
Gibraltar Association of Trust and Company Managers (ATCOM)
Business round up	p28

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