Guernsey is a financial services ‘safe haven’, says minister

Added 30th June 2016

The island remains a “safe haven” for financial services despite the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, according to Guernsey’s chief minister, deputy Gavin St Pier.

Guernsey is a financial services ‘safe haven’, says minister

St Pier made the statement before the island’s parliament on Tuesday.

Following his speech, a proposition was successfully passed by Guernsey’s policy and resources committee, which is led by St Pier, enabling the committee to negotiate with the UK government in order to:

  • protect Guernsey’s interests in the UK exit agreement;
  • replace Protocol Three, which grants the crown dependencies access to the EU’s single market and customs union via the UK's membership;
  • protect the island’s constitutional relationship with the UK; and
  • look at and take advantage of new trading relationship opportunities.

Proper representation

St Pier, along with the chief ministers of the other crown dependencies, has already written to the UK prime minister to highlight what the islands are seeking in terms of trading relationships.

He has also spoken with Lord Faulks, the minister of state at the ministry of justice, who wished to reassure Guernsey that he and the Ministry of Justice would ensure that Guernsey’s position was properly represented.

“[Lord Faulks] regarded this as part of his role and that of his department. He emphasised the importance of recognising and preserving our constitutional position,” said St Pier.

“In what seems like an increasingly unstable world we are, and I am confident will continue to be, seen for what we are; an oasis of stability – a safe haven."

A call has also taken place with Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wants to maintain dialogue with Guernsey through the exit process.

“We have much better connections with Whitehall, Westminster, Brussels and other jurisdictions in 2016 than we had in 1972 [the year of the accession of the UK to the EEC]. We have invested in our relationships which will assist us in the coming weeks, months and years,” said St Pier.

“An oasis of stability”

“In what seems like an increasingly unstable world we are, and I am confident will continue to be, seen for what we are; an oasis of stability – a safe haven. We are a safe haven for financial services – in or out of the EU – and we are a safe haven physically for those who want to relocate here – or even just holiday here in peace and quiet,” St Pier said. 

Guernsey Finance chief executive Dominic Wheatley welcomed the clarity provided by St Pier on the steps Guernsey had already taken: “It is important that the island’s finance sector continues to monitor developments closely, while at the same time recognising that while Protocol Three makes us part of the customs union and within the single market for the purposes of trade in goods, for most services, such as financial services, we were already treated as a third country and that position has not changed as a result of Brexit.

“As deputy St Pier says, Guernsey should be seen as an island of stability for financial services during this period of uncertainty.

“We already have an established third country relationship with the EU due to the fact that over a considerable number of years Guernsey has been able to demonstrate equivalence to EU standards and there is no reason to suggest that existing market access rights will be impacted,” Wheatley said.  

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About Author

Kirsten Hastings

Senior Reporter

Kirsten is a senior reporter for International Adviser, covering global news stories about the financial services industry. She joined Last Word Media in October 2015 after two years working as a reporter covering the staffing and recruitment industry. Kirsten has a Masters in Financial Journalism from the University of Stirling. 

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