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16th April 2021, 18:31

GSD calls on Government to be honest about political & economic price of a customs union 

The GSD says the Government should be honest about whether it believes being part of a customs union would be good for Gibraltar. However, it asks what would be the political and economic price of such an arrangement?

The Party says it's clear the customs union type arrangement would be a major change which the Chief Minister had previously referred to as an option. Now, the GSD says Fabian Picardo is talking in terms of not having 'the freedom to move in one direction or another', but then yesterday equivocated by insisting it was an option he 'must' consider.

The Opposition points out he cannot both be free to take the option, and unfree to choose.

The GSD says for 50 years Gibraltar was in the EU without being in the Customs Union. It says, to preserve the status quo at the border therefore it's not necessary to have a customs union type arrangement.

The Party says we had fluidity at the border which was patchy at times because of political action by Spain.

The GSD says the price of a customs arrangement would be to firstly displace immigration and customs checks at the frontier with Spain, to other parts of Gibraltar, with the prospect of uniformed officers elsewhere. It says there would also be a change to Gibraltar's economic model and it would impact consumers, trade, business and jobs.

Party Leader Keith Azopardi accuses Fabian Picardo of political dishonesty saying his statements of the last couple of days are incompatible when put side by side. He says if the Chief Minister believes Gibraltar should accept a customs union then he should say what he will be negotiating for and what he will recommend.

Mr Azopardi questions, whether it is Spain's price for a Schengen deal and this is why Mr Picardo has "no freedom to choose to move in one direction or another".

He asks how a customs arrangement or VAT will affect trade and jobs, adding it would be foolish to rush to a goal of 'maximum fluidity" only to undermine Gibraltar's economic self-sufficiency in the process.

The GSD Leader says Mr Picardo's latest statement is a smokescreen and a damage limitation exercise.

For his part Roy Clinton said Gibraltar's business sector should now urgently demand information from their industry representatives, whose names should be publicly disclosed, as well as the Government.

The Shadow Minister for Public Finance and Small Businesses said if the Spanish Tax Treaty is anything to go by, then this Government is willing to make concessions to Spain both in substance and in form. He said Gibraltarians deserve to know what this Government is doing for which it has no mandate.