Gibraltar: Morton discusses priorities in post-Brexit relations
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In a warning to both Brussels and London, Spanish Minister Jose Manuel Albares said he hopes to reach an agreement on Gibraltar and Brexit with the UK this year, despite the tensions on the Northern Ireland protocol between the bloc and Britain.
Speaking at the end of a meeting with the mayors of the municipalities of Campo de Gibraltar, he said: “We are prepared for anything and, of course, there is a plan B.
“But for now, plan A is to get a deal this year.
“The negotiation on Northern Ireland should not influence the negotiation on the Gibraltar agreement.”
Negotiated with Dastis and Borrell, promoted by González Laya and now to be finalised with Albares, the agreement on December 31 still has to resolve a few details regarding border control – a key issue for Gibraltar – tobacco and taxation.
And, of course, the treaty must be signed with the backing of the 27 EU countries.
For his part, the mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce (PP), and the president of the Campo de Gibraltar area, Juan Lozano, called on the government to make investments to develop the area where 15,000 workers currently go to the British colony to work.
Formed by eight municipalities, all mayors showed unity in the face of the three decisive months ahead to sign the Brexit Treaty on Gibraltar.
Gibraltar has belonged to Britain since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
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Last week, the EU approved a mandate for talks about Gibraltar’s relationship with the bloc post-Brexit. The December 31, 2020 deal did not include a hard border between the island and Spain.
A preliminary agreement on Gibraltar was drawn up in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, which includes Gibraltar’s membership to the Schengen area.
A separate agreement covering how Gibraltar operates post-Brexit is still required.
Earlier this month, the EU backed down from suggestions Spanish authorities could be stationed on Gibraltar, opting instead to support the border being maintained by EU-managed agency, Frontex, the Financial Times reported.
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In July, the then-Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, condemned EU proposals as seeking “to undermine the UK’s sovereignty” as it included removing some checks from the Gibraltar-Spanish border.
Approximately 15,000 Spaniards cross the border into Gibraltar on a daily basis.
More solid borders between Spain and Gibraltar would complicate matters for these workers, as well as for permanent residents and local businesses.
Considerations are not exclusively limited to these travelling workers.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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