Gibraltar, Chronicle, Inglês


The European Commission on Wednesday said it “regrets” the European Parliament’s rejection of its decision last March to remove several jurisdictions including Gibraltar from the EU’s list of high-risk countries with “strategic deficiencies” in mechanisms to counter money laundering and terrorist financing [AML/CFT].

A Commission spokesperson told the Chronicle officials would now “reflect internally” on how to address the Parliament’s vote before presenting a new amendment to the EU list, though this will likely not occur until after the European elections in June.

The Commission had in March removed Gibraltar from its list based on information from the Financial Action Task Force, which had earlier removed Gibraltar from its own “grey list” of high-risk countries.

The Commission also removed Panama, the UAE, Barbados and Uganda from its list, echoing too developments at the FATF.

But MEPs on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to reject the Commission’s position in respect of all those countries, with 490 in favour of the motion opposing the decision, 64 against and 56 abstentions.

The original motion did not refer to Gibraltar but was amended by Spanish MEPs from the Partido Popular, Vox and Ciudadanos, including the PP hawk Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

“We regret the rejection by the European Parliament of the Delegated Regulation amending the EU list of high-risk third countries with deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering / Counter Terrorism Financing regimes,” the Commission spokesperson said.

“In this Delegated Regulation, the Commission proposed to list Namibia and Kenya and to de-list the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Gibraltar, Panama, Uganda, and Barbados in order to align with the list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF).”

“In line with EU legislation, the FATF list is the baseline of the EU list.”

“Following the rejection, the Delegated Regulation will not be published and consequently will not enter into force.”

“The Commission will be required to present again a delegated regulation in order to protect the integrity of the Union financial system.”

The Commission spokesperson added: “After yesterday’s rejection, the Commission is reflecting internally about the consequences and the next steps.”

“The Commission is committed to propose a new Delegated Regulation to update the EU list of high-risk third countries in order to protect the Union financial system as soon as possible after the EP recess period.”

On Tuesday, No.6 Convent Place expressed disappointment with the development, adding the vote in respect of Gibraltar was “poisoned” by politics and based on “a fiction”, not a technical assessment.

It stressed the vote in Strasbourg on Tuesday did not impact the FATF’s decision to remove Gibraltar from its grey list.

And speaking on GBC on Wednesday, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said he was confident the Commission would maintain its position and remove Gibraltar from the EU list of high-risk jurisdictions after the June election.

“The Commission, we understand, will not accept the view of the Parliament,” he told GBC.

“It will insist on its position.”

“In order to insist on its position, it needs to re-table its position, and then that has to go to the Parliament again, differently constituted.”

“And we expect that there will be a different resolution and that Gibraltar will be removed from the European Union’s grey list, as the Commission have insisted that they want to see pursued.”

“So I have no doubt that this is literally a blip, and one day we might even reflect historically and think this was Margallo’s last stand.”

Mr Garcia-Margallo has indicated he will not seek to stand again in the June election to the European Parliament.


The developments in the European Parliament this week come at a critical time in the negotiation for a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations with the bloc, although Tuesday’s vote has no direct bearing on those talks.

Earlier this month, the UK, Gibraltar, Spain and the European Commission agreed “general political lines” on the airport, goods and mobility following a high-level meeting in Brussels.

In an unprecedented joint statement after the meeting, the four sides signalled “significant progress” toward a final deal.

“Negotiations will continue over the coming weeks to conclude the UK-EU Agreement,” the joint statement said.

But in the Spanish Parliament on Wednesday, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares, was challenged by the PP’s Carlos Floriano during a broader exchange on foreign affairs.

Reflecting on the Gibraltar negotiation, Mr Floriano complained of the Spanish Government’s “obscurantism” and called on Mr Albares to share the text of what was being negotiated.

But Mr Albares hit back and said the PP was well aware of the general lines agreed in the Gibraltar negotiation. He again called on the PP to back Madrid in its efforts to conclude the treaty.

“You know the general lines, and of course you’ll see the document once it’s ready,” Mr Albares said.

“But you already know the general lines. Do you welcome them or not?”

“I see you’re very afraid of that agreement with the UK.”

“But I’m an optimist and I still hope that the Partido Popular, at some point, adopts an element of sanity.”

The PP has to date refrained from taking a firm public position on the Gibraltar negotiation, although there may be a clue as to its thinking in the motion debated on Tuesday in the European Parliament.

One of the amendments tabled by the PP – ironically, perhaps, by Mr Garcia-Margallo himself – underscored the importance of reaching agreement, albeit with the usual caveats reflecting the PP’s historical stance on Gibraltar.

The amendment stated that “…the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom regarding the colony of Gibraltar is essential, not only for the socio-economic effects on the area, but also for the stability and good governance of a crucial, vulnerable external gateway of the European Union with a third country”.

The amendment formed part of the final document approved by MEPs from across all parties.


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