Ebene News – GB – Spain and UK reach draft agreement on post-Brexit status of Gibraltar

A last minute deal between the UK and Spain – reached just hours before Gibraltar became the only Brexit border – will allow free movement between UK overseas territory and much of the EU

“Today is a day of hope,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said on Thursday, announcing that an agreement in principle had been reached “During the long history of our relations with the United Kingdom, linked to Gibraltar, we are now facing a turning point “

As part of the deal, the British Overseas Territory at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula could join EU programs and policies such as Schengen, with Spain acting as guarantor González Laya told reporters

“Schengen will be applied to Gibraltar, with Spain assuming responsibility as a member state”, she added “This will allow the removal of controls between Spain and Gibraltar”

Gibraltar airport and port will become the EU’s last external border, with checks carried out by the EU’s Frontex agency The arrangement will be in place for an initial period of four years

When asked if this would involve the presence of Spanish security forces in Gibraltar – a point that has proven to be a major sticking point in the negotiations – González Laya said technical details would be released at in the new year

The deal will now be sent to Brussels, where the European Commission will begin negotiations with London to turn it into a treaty, a process González Laya estimated will take around six months.In the meantime, she said Spain would work to make border mobility ‘as smooth as possible’

The deal was hailed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “I warmly welcome the political agreement reached today between the UK and Spain on Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU “, He wrote on Twitter” The United Kingdom has always been and will remain totally committed to the protection of the interests of Gibraltar and of its British sovereignty “

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said this marked the start of a “new era” which would allow “the removal of barriers”

The Brexit deal announced on Christmas Eve between the UK and the EU did not cover Gibraltar Instead, the fate of the territory has been the subject of months of parallel negotiations focused on preservation free movement across the common border with Spain while avoiding the centuries-old sovereignty dispute between London and Madrid

Just hours before the UK left the 27-member bloc, negotiations over the territory’s future broke down “The final countdown”, so Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, started the day on Twitter

A few hours later, Picardo struck a cautious note “I think it’s important to temper this moment by understanding that what we have is an agreement in principle, not a treaty,” he said. to journalists “When we go to the European Union, we have to make sure that the European Commission shares our enthusiasm for this to happen”

He warned that the treaty would lead to difficult negotiations, including questions of jurisdiction and import duties “There will be complexity ahead,” he said “We can come to a deal on traffic people but not goods “

Picardo had long advocated that Gibraltar join the abolished Schengen area of ​​border controls – a move that would forge closer ties between British overseas territory and the EU as Britain left the block

On Thursday, he defended the idea, while acknowledging that it would allow nationals of Spain and other countries in the Schengen area to enter Gibraltar freely while those arriving from the UK would be subject passport checks

“This is the start of building stronger relations with the European Union and with our neighbor Spain in a way that in no way separates us from the UK which is our main relationship, “Picardo said

In the 2016 referendum, 96% of Gibraltar voters supported staying in the EU Yet the territory was incredibly close to collapsing without a deal, Picardo noted “The alternative is that in about eight hours from now, without these arrangements Gibraltar would be the only part of the European continent to suffer a difficult Brexit”

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab praised the UK’s “warm and strong relations with Spain” in a statement, noting that the deal would now seek to be formalized in the meantime , all parties are determined to mitigate the effects of the end of the transition period on Gibraltar, and in particular to ensure a smooth border, which is clearly in the best interests of those living on both sides.”

Despite the cession of Gibraltar to Britain in 1713, Spain has long sought to reclaim the tiny territory at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula

On Thursday Gibraltar and Spain stressed that the deal does not infringe on their respective sovereignty claims “There is no aspect of the agreed framework that in any way violates Gibraltar’s positions on the sovereignty, jurisdiction or control, “Picardo said, echoing González Laya’s earlier remarks


Ebene News – GB – Spain and UK reach draft agreement on post-Brexit status for Gibraltar

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/31/spain-and-uk-reach-draft-deal-on-post-brexit-status-of-gibraltar