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ECJ rules Gibraltar and UK ‘are one’ for EU law

The European Union’s top court ruled yesterday that Gibraltar and the United Kingdom must be treated as a single EU member for certain aspects of EU law.
The European Court of Justice was asked to provide a ruling in relation to a dispute between the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association and the UK tax authorities after a British law in 2014 introduced a duty to be paid by gambling companies for offshore bets placed by British consumers.
The gambling association, representing Gibraltar-based gambling operators, had argued that the law change resulted in double taxation and infringed EU law guaranteeing the freedom to provide services across the bloc.
A UK court asked the EU court whether Gibraltar and Britain were to be treated as a single EU member state for which the EU law would not apply.
The court said that Gibraltar did not form part of the United Kingdom, but that trade between the two was not the same as trade between separate EU member states given their connections.
“It follows that the provision of services by operators established in Gibraltar to persons established in the United Kingdom constitutes, under EU law, a situation confined in all respects within a single Member State,” the court said in its ruling.
The court said its conclusion should not be understood as undermining the separate and distinct status of Gibraltar.
The Government of Gibraltar yesterday noted the judgement in the case, in which it had intervened to support the GBGA.
“Although, in normal circumstances, the Government of Gibraltar would have been disappointed with such a ruling, as a result of Brexit and the commitments already made by the UK Government to Gibraltar in relation to access to the UK market, [the government] does not consider that the judgment will have any significant effect, whether on the online gaming sector or more generally,” a government spokesman said.
“Indeed, the judgment may provide a different, and strengthened, perspective on Gibraltar's position in the Brexit negotiations, as part of the same UK single market for the purposes of EU law.”

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