Premier: ‘UK Committed To Involving Territories’

November 21, 2016

Premier Michael Dunkley provided an update on the Government’s engagement regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union in the House of Assembly today [Nov 21], saying that the UK Government is “committed to involving Overseas Territories” as it “prepares for negotiations to leave the EU. ”

The Premier said, “Earlier this month I attended the Joint Ministerial Council in London, together with elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories. The primary issue on the table for every Territory was to understand the impact of BREXIT on us.

“During my bilateral with the Rt Hon Baroness Anelay, Minister of State for Overseas Territories, I was assured of the UK’s commitment to work alongside this Government to ensure that our economic sustainability is upheld as they negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“The Bermuda public can be assured that this is also the Government’s primary objective, along with upholding our global reputation and relationships with our European partners.

“Another key area of concern is the ability of British Overseas Territory Citizen passport holders to continue to enjoy free movement throughout the Schengen area. This Government has expressed our concern in this regard to the UK Government and will continue to work closely with them to preserve the access that we currently enjoy.

“The UK Government is committed to involving Overseas Territories, in accordance with our various constitutional relationships, as it prepares for negotiations to leave the EU. This will ensure that our priorities are taken into account.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker,

I rise today to update this Honourable House on the Government’s engagement regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. This follows my last report on the 15th July, 2016.

Mr Speaker,

As Members of this Honourable House know, earlier this month I attended the Joint Ministerial Council in London, together with elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories. The primary issue on the table for every Territory was to understand the impact of BREXIT on us.

During my bilateral with the Rt Hon Baroness Anelay, Minister of State for Overseas Territories, I was assured of the UK’s commitment to work alongside this Government to ensure that our economic sustainability is upheld as they negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Bermuda public can be assured that this is also the Government’s primary objective, along with upholding our global reputation and relationships with our European partners. Another key area of concern is the ability of British Overseas Territory Citizen passport holders to continue to enjoy free movement throughout the Schengen area. This Government has expressed our concern in this regard to the UK Government and will continue to work closely with them to preserve the access that we currently enjoy.

Mr Speaker,

The Minister for the Department for Exiting the European Union attended the Ministerial Council to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the Overseas Territories following the UK’s decision to exit the EU. The UK Government is clear that the referendum result does not change the UK Government’s relationships with its Territories.
Together we reaffirmed that while the UK remains a member of the EU, current EU funding arrangements under the Overseas Association Decision continue unchanged, and clarified that where Territories are eligible for EU funds that have been covered by assurances from Her Majesty’s Treasury, those guarantees will extend to the Territories.

Mr Speaker,

The UK Government is committed to involving Overseas Territories, in accordance with our various constitutional relationships, as it prepares for negotiations to leave the EU. This will ensure that our priorities are taken into account.

To this end, UK Ministers and Leaders of the Overseas Territories committed to taking forward future engagement through the creation of a UK Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations [JMC-EN]. The first meeting will take place early in the New Year. JMC-EN is under the responsibility of the Department for Exiting the European Union and will be chaired by Minister Robin Walker. Under JMC- EN, our objective will be to develop an approach to, and objectives for the Overseas Territories to inform the UK’s Article 50 negotiations. We will seek equality with the commitment made by the UK to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The public can be assured, therefore, that this Government has been and will continue to be at the forefront of discussions with the UK Government on BREXIT.

Mr Speaker,

The Government is aware of the UK’s successful efforts at a recent meeting of the EU Economic and Finance Council to support the removal of low or no income tax as a criteria for EU blacklisting. The Government has an active, direct engagement strategy in Brussels, through the Minister of Finance, the Hon Bob Richards, who has visited with the Secretary General and Senior European Commission officials, to promote a better understanding of Bermuda’s business model in the provision of international financial services. We have consistently emphasized that our model adds value and stability to the global financial system.

Our team has continuously emphasized to OECD and European Commission officials that Bermuda’s omission from Panama Papers discussions is a reflection of the effectiveness of our central register on ultimate beneficial ownership, held with the Bermuda Monetary Authority, which we have maintained for over 70 years. Bermuda’s sterling reputation serves us well as we continue our bilateral engagement with officials in Brussels.

Mr Speaker,

I understand some of my fellow Leaders have made comments in the media suggesting that UK Overseas Territories fear that Britain’s loss of influence in the EU as a result of the BREXIT vote will leave them exposed to tougher offshore tax rules imposed by Brussels. This does not concern Bermuda; we have consistently had direct engagement in Brussels and other EU nations on a bilateral basis. In some cases there has been assistance from the UK Government, but for the most part Bermuda has defended its own battles and developed a unique skill in highlighting our valued economic contribution to the global economy.
Mr Speaker,

On the date of the withdrawal from the European Union, Britain will be looking to the wider world to establish future trade and investment arrangements. The UK Government and the Overseas Territories have a shared ambition for a new UK-OT economic partnership, one that includes the Overseas Territories in future UK bilateral investment Treaties.

Mr Speaker,

We are confident that the relationship between Bermuda and the UK is stronger than ever. We have a dedicated Minister of State for Overseas Territories along with a Prime Minister who is ready to ensure the greatest consultation with Overseas Territories within the EU Negotiation process.

In conclusion,

Although as British Nationals Bermudians were not afforded the opportunity to be part of the EU Referendum, we respect the decision of the British people. I will not pre-empt the decisions that are to come out of the EU negotiations but I can assure this Honourable House that Bermuda will engage with the UK Government at the highest political level to ensure the interests of this country are well represented.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Derek W says:

    The PM doesn’t want to involve the rest of Parliament, Scotland, Wales or NI so I doubt she cares what the OT’s think

    • We’re just pawns in this International Chess Game, and ironically in chess, de white pawn has advantages over de black pawn !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

  2. John Joseph says:

    Why can’t Bermuda negotiate visa free travel themselves for belongers?