What will Brexit mean for commerce in Gibraltar


Of course, there are concerns across the UK as people consider what a non-EU Britain could lose out on – with favourites like toblerone, prosecco and camembert all facing price hikes.

Yet, food woes aside, it’s the row between Spain and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar that is hitting Brexit headlines at the moment, with Spain taking movements to block any future deals that Gibraltar might try to make with the EU. This could be incredibly detrimental to the future of Gibraltar considering how well the territory has done with EU support.

This is a move that is believed by some UK politicians, such as Lord Michael Howard, to be a ploy from Spain in order to take control of Gibraltar’s sovereignty from Britain. Indeed, Lord Howard has suggested the UK could easily go to war with Spain over Gibraltar, similar to the war with Argentina over the Falklands. A notion that led Spanish politicians to warn Britain against losing its temper.

Gibraltar itself voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU with 96% voting in favour. This was on a high vote turnout of 83%. When the overall vote of the UK favoured leaving, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, soon began plans with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, (who also voted to remain) in order to strike a UK deal.

Unlike Scotland who are looking to gain independence in order to re-join the EU, Gibraltar are not looking to leave the UK sovereignty. Nor would they choose to join Spain, as experts claim that Gibraltar’s impressive economy is partly due to their separation from the mainland. Plus, by being a British territory, Gibraltar is able to set its own regulations and tax levels. Indeed, Spain has been trying to gain control of Gibraltar for decades now, but the 30,000 inhabitants of the small territory have always opposed these movements, wanting to remain as part of the UK.

At the moment Gibraltar receives millions of tourists crossing the border from Spain every year, as well as many supplies and workers. The fear is, that with Gibraltar out of the EU, there would be nothing stopping Spain shutting its border as it did between 1969 and 1985.

Gibraltar is home to many businesses, particularly in the tech and finance industries, including Party Poker, Sovereign Group and the Bland Group. The border allows British, Spanish and Gibraltarians to move freely allowing for an easy workforce, but this could all change after Brexit.

Although nothing is set in stone for Gibraltar at the moment, it’s clear the countries in the EU are not going to give the UK an easy time when it comes to Brexit negotiations and it looks highly likely that Gibraltar will be seen as a bargaining chip in these discussions. It will be interesting to see what the next two years brings for the territory and how it will affect commerce.