UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Gibraltar on March 29 as a show of support for the Schengen treaty to be worked out with the EU later this year.
At a historic Joint Ministerial Council held at No.6 Convent Place, ministers and official settled the terms by which Gibraltar would remove its land frontier with Spain.
Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, welcomed Raab and gave him a personal tour of Gibraltar’s streets and nature park.
Both of them welcomed the Spanish approach which had made this treaty possible.
The visit by Raab is being seen as one of the biggest indications since Brexit of the UK’s commitment to Gibraltar’s self-determination.
“The UK will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes,” assured a government spokesperson.
“Nor will it enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.”
The UK Foreign Secretary was looking to reassure the UK’s part in giving the Rock the best future despite how difficult the Brexit pill has been to swallow.
“Our position reflects the unique situation of Gibraltar and the opportunity that this negotiation brings,” said Raab.
“At the core is a shared aim to secure future prosperity for Gibraltar and the surrounding region.
“This will be delivered through a treaty which brings confidence, legal certainty and stability to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Gibraltar and neighbouring communities, without prejudice to legal positions on sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
Raab said the aim was to have ‘fluid movement of people and goods between Gibraltar and the EU’
However, he warned that if a treaty was not beneficial to Gibraltar or the UK, he was ‘fully prepared to accept the implications’.
He added that whatever happened, ‘The UK will stand fully behind Gibraltar, its people and its economy in any scenario’.
Level playing field
If talks succeed and all parties agree, Frontex will carry out Schengen entry checks to Gibraltar’s air and sea port for four years.
If after this time there is any side is unhappy about the arrangement, they can put an end to it.
One of the main sticking points with Spain has been assuring that it does not have control over who enters or leaves the Rock.
The treaty would make sure there is cooperation on law enforcement, environmental protection, transport; social security, citizens’ rights for frontier workers and data protection.
EU market access will be regulated to create a level playing field between Gibraltar and Spain.