A British Virgin Islands delegation and UK Government representatives recently discussed freedom of movement to the European Union (EU) for Overseas Territories (OT) citizens at a Brexit technical roundtable in London.
Officials from the UK Home Office and UK Department for Exiting the EU, met with BVI London Office Director and EU Representative, Mr. Benito Wheatley who emphasised the importance of visa-free travel to the EU for the BVI's local business persons.
At the roundtable held on May 9, Mr. Wheatley stated that the BVI is the Headquarters of the Commercial Court Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and home to a new International Arbitration Centre.
He added, “The Territory's local legal practitioners will need to continue to travel outward to Europe to engage clients in cases and this should not be impeded.”
Mr. Wheatley stressed that BVI students currently enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen area and the ability to participate in EU higher education schemes.
"EU countries will remain tourism destinations that BVIslanders wish to visit and their travel to Europe should remain easy in that regard,” he added.
Participation in the roundtable follows the attendance of Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE at the first UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit Negotiations in February and his subsequent report to the public that his Government will continue to engage the UK on Brexit issues and to advance the Territory's interests.
The BVI earlier participated in a Brexit technical roundtable on fisheries and agriculture in April and will attend upcoming technical roundtables on EU funding, trade and financial services.
The Premier has mandated a Brexit Task Force chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Premier's Office, Mr. Brodrick Penn, to prepare a White Paper on the opportunities and risks posed to BVI by Brexit that will be completed ahead of the second UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit Negotiations on July 12.
The Government of the Virgin Islands has affirmed its commitment to strengthening international relationships, in positioning the Territory for the future.