European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Saving for rights etc. under section 2(1) of the ECA

Mike Wood: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way and for treating us to the shorter version of his speech. Does he welcome the communiqué signed by the Government and the territories, which said that the UK acknowledged

“the importance of EU funding for sustainable economic development in some Overseas Territories and committed to ensuring that these interests were fully reflected in the UK’s negotiating position”?

Does he not think that that will be of great assistance to Anguilla and other overseas territories?

 

Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South

No, I do not; it is just words. It is all about what will happen in the negotiations. How much money are we prepared to put in? Will there be a payment into the EU budget in order to continue EU assistance to Anguilla, which does not come directly from DFID at this time? Those are interesting and complicated questions.

Like the UK, Anguilla lies outside the Schengen area, which also does not apply to French St Martin. Under EU Council articles 349 and 355 of the Treaty of Lisbon, French St Martin is classified as an outermost region of France, while Dutch Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Anguilla are classified as overseas countries and territories of the EU. In 2017, in a factsheet entitled “Outermost regions”, the European Union’s Parliament stated:

“Regardless of the great distance separating them from the European continent, the outermost regions are an integral part of the European Union, and the acquis communautaire is fully applicable in their territory. However, owing to their specific geographical location and the related difficulties, EU policies have had to be adjusted to their special situation.

The relevant measures concern, in particular, areas such as customs and trade policies, fiscal policy, free zones, agriculture and fisheries policies, and conditions for supply of raw materials and essential consumer goods.”

The outermost regions of the EU are specifically mandated by the EU and, as such, will require specific negotiation in the context of Brexit to take account of their needs. The problem that I face is that the Government have not given us any detail either in the written answer that I have secured or on any other basis as to what they will do to protect the interests of Anguilla. Unlike Gibraltar, Anguilla does not have an effective big lobbying operation, because it does not have a relationship with City financial institutions in the same way. It is very much dependent on tourism. One of its problems is that, because it does not have an international airport, flights go into St Martin, and, at present, at 10 o’clock at night, there is no means of transit from Anguilla to St Martin. Consequently, people have to stay in St Martin and not go across to Anguilla because of those difficulties in communication.

We need to be able to help Anguilla help its tourist industry, and the best way to do that would be within the framework of the European Union, but of course the referendum decision and the way that it is being implemented by the Government mean that that will not be possible. As a result, Anguilla faces some real difficulties and dilemmas: 95% of its access for tourism and other economic measures will be subject to deliberations between EU member states during the course of the Brexit negotiations. Its fuel and desalination capacity will be exposed to negotiations on whether tariffs are to be added to oil imports from the Dutch island of Sint Eustatius.

There is a whole question about essential goods and services such as medical diagnostics, mail and the vast majority of international trade and tourism. Tourism accounts for 21% of the gross value added of Anguilla. So much about Anguilla is dependent on the relationship it has with the island to its south, and that is with the European Union. The Government have said nothing about this.