The Territory’s affiliation with the European Union and the impending BREXIT move were touched on by Premier and Minister for Finance on Tuesday 11 September during a public discussion that was held in relations to the United Kingdom’s inquiry into its relationship with the Overseas Territories.
Since the BREXIT announcement there have been concerns in the Territory as to how this change would affect the BVI. Time has passed and the Premier is noting that the concerns remain.
Hon. Smith said “The relationship between the Overseas Territories and the UK allows us to enjoy certain benefits by the UK being a member of the European Union. Some of those benefits include the ability to travel freely in the 28 member countries the European Union, the ability to have certain tax services when it comes to trade. The ability to benefit from some of the programs which the EU would have for all the Overseas Territories …. There are many different areas in which they offer programs and we are able to benefit in all those areas.”
“The idea is that because of BREXIT we want to be able to make sure that we continue to benefit in these ways I just mentioned and hence we have ongoing discussions with the British Government about maintaining the position for the Overseas Territories, while its having discussions with the EU on BREXIT,” the Premier further mentioned on Tuesday.
BREXIT to impact negatively UKOT
It was noted that the EU is also looking into the impact BREXIT will have on its Overseas Territories, and the relationship with the British Overseas Territory. It was noted that in July an ad hoc discussions was held in St Martin to consider ways of dealing with the BREXIT effects.
At that meeting a European Union (EU) representative announced that discussions have commenced on how to maintain a partnership with the British Virgin Islands and other United Kingdom Overseas Territories following BREXIT. Some commentators believe that after Brexit, UKOT citizens may be considered third world citizens by USA and Europe.
Through its position as a United Kingdom territory the BVI has benefited from membership with the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union (OCTA). Unfortunately, BREXIT poses a threat to this OCTA relationship.
The suggestion of an attempt to disintegrate the European Union and pulverize the Euro as an international conspiracy has become more prominent in recent months. Populist and fascist leaders seem to be working hard at creating problems in the European Union and it cannot be considered accidental because some superpowers would gain from a European meltdown. We all know what happened with a fascist nazi Europe.
The potential for a hard Brexit is still very high, such an outcome would prove extremely deleterious for Britain and as a consequence for her territories. It does not pay to mince words when the leading party in Britain is so fragmented. What the UKOTs got in the meantime is the register of beneficial ownership which will clip their wings from flying high.
Based on media reports, OCTA is supposedly concerned that the majority of its current membership consists of British Overseas Territories. “Their exit will prompt an array of operational and strategic constraints for the association… Significant to note is that the majority of these territories are located in the Caribbean region. Examples are Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat, therefore preserving our ties with these territories post Brexit remains of paramount importance,” the report indicated.
It was further explained that OCTA’s existing articles of association “were reviewed and the possibilities for cooperation with the British Overseas Territories with respect to regional programming, diplomacy and lobbying after March 29, 2019 were thoroughly debated.”
Therefore, as a means of softening the blow of BREXIT it was announced that the EU representative for Sint Maarten, Carol Voges, chaired an ad hoc OCTA Executive Committee meeting that was aimed at triggering discussions “with the OCTA membership on the future of the association post Brexit.”
It was mentioned that in preparation of the upcoming Ministerial conference in early 2019, the Executive Committee has decided to commission a legal consultant to provide guidance on the various options available for the continued partnership with the British Overseas Territories.
Moreover, OCTA announced that it would be publishing its position on the new Overseas Association Decision (OAD) which is the legislative framework that stipulates the Overseas Countries and Territories’ relationship with the European Union.