Bermuda Officials In Talks With European Union

April 8, 2015

Bermuda officials have been in talks with European Union authorities on policy matters of mutual interest, the Government said today, adding that “high on the list of priorities are impending EU laws that may disadvantage Bermuda’s insurers and reinsurers.”

“But if Bermuda’s quest for equivalence with Europe’s Solvency II Directive is successful, it would allow Bermuda insurers and reinsurers to retain access to EU markets when new harmonization rules come into effect in 2016,” a spokesperson said.

“Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Bob Richards last month completed a third visit to Brussels and returns there in June to again constructively engage European representatives.

“During the most recent trip, meetings were held with officials from all three EU institutions [the European Commission, The Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament], as well as with the UK Permanent Representation, and, representatives of the European insurance industry.

“Minister Richards said he felt positive about the meetings, but noted the discussions underscored the continuing work Bermuda must do to ensure it is seen as separate from jurisdictions being targeted as “tax havens”.

The Minister said, “During some of these meetings, we felt it necessary to emphasize Bermuda’s contribution to the global and EU economies through our insurance and re-insurance sectors.

“Many of these policy makers know the history of Bermuda’s adherence to international best practices. But there will always be those who don’t. We have to continue telling our story.

“The international climate can be hostile. There are those blaming small countries for the problems facing their economies. We must make our case that Bermuda is unique and there is need for a differentiation in the treatment of smaller island jurisdictions.

“Bermuda has always been ahead of the curve on compliance in tax, financial regulation, transparency and international cooperation. Bermuda’s first TIEA [Tax Information Exchange Agreement] with the US dated from 1986. This was a landmark, a launching pad for re-insurance in Bermuda.”

The Minister said, “Bermuda’s Government, the Legislature and the financial services regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority have been doing their part to stand on common ground with Europe on Solvency II. And much work has been done by the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers [ABIR] in advancing the cause.

“At home, there are still further measures that we are putting in place. There are also outstanding matters that must be realized on the continent. We are in Brussels again in June, where we believe the “Bermuda story” has largely been heard. But we cannot be complacent until we get to the finish line.

“It is clear that Solvency II equivalence for Bermuda is not just good for our companies. The Bermuda markets make an important contribution to the European and global economies.

“Over many years now, payments from Bermuda reinsurers have represented significant relief for public and private claimants in the wake of horrific disasters, including hurricanes and air disasters.

“The importance of these markets to Europe and the world is unquestioned. Our support for them is imperative.”

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Comments (16)

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  1. J Starling says:

    In the UK we’re seeing the rise of UKIP and a Euroskeptic wing gaining ascendancy in the Conservative Party. If the Tories win the May 7th General Election they are committed to holding an ‘in-out’ referendum on EU membership.

    If the UK subsequently votes to leave the EU, all of us lose our EU access. Is there any way to put in some sort of lock or compensation in the event of this worst-case scenario?

    Alternatively, if the UK takes us out of the EU, do you think this will increase the attraction of independence for Bermuda?

    • Creamy says:

      How ironic. Starling, Mr Independence, suddenly wants to preserve his rights as a British citizen.

      • Andrew says:

        Incorrect. He is asking about preserving rights as an EU citizen.

        • serengeti says:

          But those EU rights derive solely from his British citizenship.

      • J Starling says:

        How did you get that from what I wrote?

        I was simply raising issues concerning the EU that I don’t think have been considered.

        I remain a supporter of independence OR a federal British republic. I feel independence is more likely however.

        • serengeti says:

          You want to preserve rights you currently have as a British citizen (“lock or compensation”), even as you advocate ditching British citizenship out of the other side of your mouth.

          It must be hard to know who you’re looking at in the mirror every morning. Is it the person who wants to throw away his UK, or the person who lives in Scotland and likes the benefits of having a UK passport.

          • J Starling says:

            As long as we remain a UK colony, we are affected by their decisions. We have EU access via remaining a colony, no question. And EU access is one of the main arguments given for staying a colony. So if we lose EU access by the UK leaving, is independence still as attractive? And do you think we should consider the impact of the UK taking us out of the EU?

            And if Scotland chooses to go independent and remain in the EU (in reaction to rUK voting to leave) could Bermudians opt to remain part of the EU via Edinburgh rather than London?

            I have UK citizenship via my parents who are UK citizens (PRCers). If Bda or Scotland chose to go independent and I had to chose between UK citizenship or Bdian\Scottish citizenship would happily rescind my UK citizenship accordingly.

            • Creamy says:

              You live in a fantasy land. Scotland is not going independent. As a resident there, you had a vote in the referendum. You know what happened.
              You whine about being British, but then you also whine when your British passport benefits might be threatened. If you can’t see the hypocrisy in your position, fine. The rest of us can see it.

              • J Starling says:

                Scotland voted (narrowly) against independence, with support grown since, and the general sentiment is that if the UK votes to leave the EU despite the vote in Scotland being pro-EU, a second referendum will occur and the Yes vote is expected to win that and keep Scotland within the EU.

                I’ve no where ‘whined’ about being British or about benefits being affected. I’ve stated my preference for a federal British republic or independence over the status quo AND pointed out how the UK leaving the EU might impact us.

                As opposed to you hiding behind a fake name to lob personal attacks…

      • Onion says:

        What’s ironic is that he lives in Scotland and enjoys the benefits of UK citizenship while wanting to deny that to future generations of an independent Bermuda.

        • J Starling says:

          I would not deny such to the people. I do not – nor do any politicians – dictate this. The people are in charge. That’s the basis of democracy.

          I have said (above and previously) that I support a federal British republic, but failing that I would prefer independence than remaining a colony.

          What I have tried to point out here (and you have chosen to ignore) is that one of the strongest arguments commonly employed against independence for Bermuda is that we’d lose EU access\passports. But the UK risks leaving the EU in the next few years, thus taking away this EU access without us having a say. If that happens, is remaining a colony still as attractive?

          And yes, I spend part of my time in Scotland where I’m pursuing further education. It boggles the mind that you and others see that as something negative.

    • Onion says:

      Independence is a bad choice for Bermuda on virtually every level. This would change nothing.

    • Mockingjay says:

      Mark of de Beast.

  2. Coffee says:

    Bob Richards is the wrong man for the job .

  3. Ice Back Mice Elf says:

    We shouldn’t be associated with the EU in the first place. OMG we have such naive and ill informed leaders.

  4. sassymama says:

    Mark my word, this is not going to pan out well for us.