Spain and the United Kingdom recently reached a preliminary agreement on preserving the free movement of goods and people between Spain and Gibraltar. The area thus becomes a member of the Schengen Area without border controls. This will prevent the border between Spain and Gibraltar from becoming an external border of the European Union as of January 1, after the end of the post-Brexit transition period, according to Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
And Bloomberg Financial News reported that the Spanish minister said that London and Madrid had reached a temporary agreement and that they had the basis for building a cooperation zone.
Gibraltar is a 6.8 square kilometer rock in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and has been in the hands of the British since 1713. The small British enclave depends entirely on imports to feed its 34,000 inhabitants. Every day around 15,000 border workers come from Spain to work there. In the Brexit referendum in 2016, 96% of Gibraltar residents voted to remain within the European Union.
According to the Spanish minister, the Schengen agreement will apply to Gibraltar, while the final agreement is being worked on. Gonzales Laia said Spain would be responsible for implementing the provisions of the Schengen Agreement. Spain hopes that the final agreement will be effective within six months.
Madrid and London came under time pressure in their negotiations over Gibraltar. Without an agreement between Madrid and London, merchandise trade between Gibraltar and Spain would have been subject to tariffs from January 1, with all the associated economic consequences. The trade agreement concluded by Europe and the United Kingdom on December 24 did not include any settlement of British overseas territories.
These are bilateral talks between Madrid on the one hand and London and Gibraltar on the other side. Gonzales Laia says London also has to deal with the European Union. “This is a good deal because we are responding to the concerns of our citizens,” Gonzales said.
British Minister: “The United Kingdom supports the sovereignty of Gibraltar”
The four countries of the United Kingdom support Gibraltar and its sovereignty. This is what British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, after the initial agreement with Spain on the free movement of goods and people between Gibraltar and Spain.
Raab spoke of “intense negotiations with the Spanish government” that led to the agreement in principle. This, she said, would form the basis for a separate treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union on Gibraltar.
“In the meantime, all parties are obligated to mitigate the impact of the end of the transition period (Brexit, ed) on Gibraltar and ensure smooth traffic at the border, which is clearly in the interest of the people who live on both sides of it.” Said Raab. “We remain resolute in our support for Gibraltar and its sovereignty,” he added.
Gibraltar’s head of government, Fabian Picardo, will make a comment later today.
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