The president of Tenerife, Carlos Alonso, said the islands would call upon the Spanish government to ensure that any deal struck between the EU and UK provides for special conditions for the Canaries, since it is an autonomous state from Spain.
“The Canaries already benefits from certain special measures and exemptions in EU policies, for example in common agricultural policy, fiscal policy and commercial policy, because we are a small territory, very far from the mainland,” he told TTG@WTM.
“We are asking that we be able to maintain the current framework we have with the UK, with free movement of goods, of services (including tourism), of people and of capital, which is in the mutual interest of both parties.”
Alonso said it was difficult to specify from which parts of the Brexit deal the Canaries will seek exemption until the terms of the deal have been finalised. But he said a “general article” in the new treaty which allows for specific measures for autonomous regions and overseas territories, also including islands such as Madeira, the Azores, and the French Caribbean, should be included.
Alonso revealed that the Canary Islands government has already investigated and approved the proposal, and it will now be passed to the central Spanish government in Madrid.
“Legally and economically, it is feasible,” he insisted. “We are such a small piece of the cake, so why not? Exemptions are not very well received by the European Union but we do have a tradition of exemptions for the Canaries.”
He added that the move will also send an important message to the people of the UK, that Tenerife values and wishes to maintain its close relationship with the UK.
“In this world of uncertainty, having someone who extends the hand and says we are here and want to maintain the relationship is an important message,” he said.
The UK is now the biggest source market for Tenerife, accounting for more visitors than Spain. The tourist board reported another record-breaking year for tourism arrivals, with 1.8 million UK arrivals so far this year, up 8.8% compared to the same period last year.