That there is no gate in Gibraltar. Approximately 15,000 community workers cross the gate daily to work on the Rock, and it is intended that they can do so in the most fluid way possible. This was agreed by Spain and the United Kingdom on New Year’s Eve 2020, and with that purpose the talks between the European Commission and London began this Monday, while the agreement on Gibraltar on the movement of people and goods was left out of the Brexit agreement to give the problem uniqueness and give Spain its own negotiating capacity.
The Council of the EU – the 27 governments – decided on October 5 to authorize the opening of negotiations with London. “The envisaged agreement between the EU and the UK with regard to Gibraltar must be understood without prejudice to questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction,” says the Council.
The political agreement that will serve as the basis for the EU negotiation reached by Spain and the United Kingdom involves applying Schengen to Gibraltar and lifting the gate.
The agreement should also allow the incorporation of fair competition measures in taxation, environment and labor matters.
Spain and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle in extremis on the last New Year’s Eve that allows to “lift the gate” in Gibraltar and apply Schengen in the territory, something that was not covered by the Brexit agreement reached between the EU and the United Kingdom last Christmas Eve.
The European Commission decided in July to ask the Council (the governments) to open negotiations to close the EU-UK agreement, which the Council did on October 5. From here, the Community Executive began formal negotiations with the United Kingdom on Monday, which initially made a gesture at the starting position of Brussels.
“The United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain agreed to a pragmatic Framework Agreement, in coordination with the European Commission,” stated the British Government: “And the mandate proposed by the Commission conflicts with that Framework. It seeks to undermine the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over Gibraltar and cannot constitute a basis for negotiations. We have consistently shown pragmatism and flexibility in seeking agreements that work for all parties, and we are disappointed that this has not been reciprocated. We urge the EU to rethink it. ”
And what is the problem in the UK? That the agreement with Spain, the result of six months of work, establishes that Spain will be the EU Member State “responsible” for the application of Schengen in Gibraltar, although during a transitional period of four years it will be assisted by Frontex. The inclusion of Gibraltar in the Schengen area means that British traveling to the region will have to pass some kind of passport control at the border, while Spaniards will be able to cross freely.
But in the July mandate of the European Commission the role of Frontex is abolished. And all the prominence is given to Spain.
However, the definitive mandate that the 27 adopted on October 5 introduced as a nuance that Spain has expressed its “interest” in requesting the Frontex agency assistance for this task during an initial period of four years, reports Europa Press.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who will lead the Brussels negotiating team, tweeted: “Good first call with UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss. Looking forward to constructive discussions between the European Union and the UK regarding Gibraltar. “.
“Good conversation with Maros Sefcovic ahead of the UK-EU talks on Gibraltar starting on Monday,” Minister Truss tweeted: “We are committed to working towards a treaty in line with the framework agreed with Spain. UK se stands firm in our support for Gibraltar and will not accept anything that would compromise sovereignty. ”
In addition to the October round, two more are planned in November and one in December. The rounds will be held alternately in Brussels and London.
The Government of Gibraltar said in a statement last week that it “remains firmly committed to a final treaty that is based on the political framework envisaged in the New Year’s Eve agreement and will continue to work constructively to achieve that goal.”
And he added: “In the event that this is not possible, we make preparations to mitigate some of the effects of a non-negotiated result.”