BRITAIN and Spain must cooperate together on Gibraltar following the UK’s departure from the EU, according to the new Brexit draft withdrawal agreement.
The 585-page document released yesterday, has outlined a brand new protocol between London and Madrid to address issues between the Rock and the Campo de Gibraltar.
Six articles have been dedicated to tackling long-standing issues such as tax evasion, environmental concerns, smuggling and the rights of cross-border workers.
The paper outlines that the 10,000 Spaniards who cross the border to work on the Rock must not be discriminated against in terms of wages, working conditions and social rights.
To effectively address these issues, the protocol creates three Spanish-British committees which would report to a separate higher committee made up of UK and EU representatives.
In this way, the EU would still supervise the cooperation between Spain and the UK.
There will also be a joint committee dealing specifically with environmental issues, such as waste treatment, air quality, fishing and scientific research – something which critically needs addressing in the Campo de Gibraltar area as it was revealed to have the most polluted air in Spain.
However, the document has not properly dealt with the long-standing issue of the joint use of Gibraltar airport – built on a piece of land Spain claims as its own – while transport regulations will only be affected when London and Madrid ‘reach a satisfactory agreement’ over the airport.
The protocol also pledges to tackle tax issues such as ‘tight fraud, smuggling and money laundering’ in a bid to achieve ‘total transparency’ over tax concerns.
In a bid to clamp down on tobacco smuggling, the UK must ensure that the Rock incorporates World Health Organisation rules on tobacco controls in June 2020
The Gibraltar government is satisfied that the UK’s terms during the transitional period will apply to the Rock and has supported the draft withdrawal agreement over the Rock.
A government statement read: “It means that Gibraltar will not crash out of the European Union in March 2019 and that things will largely remain as they are until the end of 2020.”
“This Protocol contains absolutely no concessions on sovereignty, jurisdiction or control. We would not have accepted it if it had,” said chief minister Fabian Picardo, “I am satisfied that the aspects of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement which relate to Gibraltar work for Gibraltar.”
Whereas, opposition leader, Keith Azopardi, tweeted that the GSD needs to first ‘evaluate whether the deal is good for Gibraltar’.
It comes after EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier met with Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez in September and stated he would offer ‘all his support to Spain’ regarding its requirements regarding tax evasion, cross border workers and smuggling.
In return Spain promised to stop pushing for sovereignty over Gibraltar and allow the Rock to leave the EU alongside the UK.