Delegation to put Bermuda’s case in Brussels

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A Bermuda delegation is to travel to the European Union HQ in Brussels in June in a bid to protect Bermuda’s international business.

The visit is the latest in a series of high-profile trips to lobby EU institutions over upcoming EU laws which could damage the Island’s insurance and reinsurance industry.

And Finance Minister Bob Richards said it was crucial to put clear blue water between Bermuda and other small island jurisdictions.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Government said, however, that if the Island is successful in gaining equivalence with the EU’s solvency II directive governing the financial health of companies, the Island would retain its free access to European markets when the new rules come into force next year.

Mr Richards last month made his third visit to Brussels and held meetings with officials from the European Commission, the Presidency of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

And Mr Richards said — although the meetings went well — they underscored the need to keep Bermuda at arm’s length from the “tax haven” tag.

He added: “During some of these meetings, we felt it necessary to emphasise Bermuda’s contribution to the global and EU economies through our insurance and reinsurance sectors.

“Many of these policymakers know the history of Bermuda’s adherence to international best practices.

“But there will always be those who don’t.

“We have to continue telling our story. The international community can be hostile. There are those blaming small countries for the problems facing their economies.

“We must make our case that Bermuda is unique and there is no need for a differentiation in the treatment of smaller island jurisdictions.”

Mr Richards said that Bermuda had signed its first tax information exchange agreement in 1986 — which kick-started the insurance and reinsurance boom.

He added: “Bermuda’s Government, the legislature and the financial services regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority have been doing their part to stand on common ground with Europe on Solvency II.

“And much work has been done by the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers in advancing the cause.”

Mr Richards said: “At home, there are still further measures that we are putting in place. There are also outstanding matters that must be realised on the continent.

“We are in Brussels again in June, where we believe the Bermuda story has largely been heard. But we cannot be complacent until we get to the finish line.”

And Mr Richards added that Bermuda business had stumped up on claims for natural and man-made disasters for many years.

He said: “It is clear that Solvency II equivalence for Bermuda is not just good for our companies.

“The Bermuda markets make an important contribution to the European and global economies.”

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