AFTER months of negotiations concerning the future of Gibraltar post-Brexit, an end is now in sight, according to Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
In an address to parliament on Monday, Picardo insisted Gibraltar was ‘within touching distance of a new treaty’ with the EU.
Negotiations for a UK/EU agreement on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations have so far seen eight rounds of talks since October 2021as huge teams on both sides battled for a solution to the frontier issue.
The most substantial part of the negotiations concern the movement of people and goods to and from Spain, which is a member of Schengen.
In his update to the House, Picardo sounded upbeat whilst stressing that at least two more rounds of negotiations would be needed, with the first round likely to be in June.
“We are, in effect, touching every single aspect of the basic building blocks of the European Union and considering whether and if so how each of those should apply to Gibraltar going forward,” he said.
“That will bring an end, forever, of frontier queues and checks as we know them today.”
The news will be welcomed by Gibraltarians and Brits for whom the act of strolling across the border and being casually waved through, has become a distant memory.
There have been increasing reports of border issues over the past month, with Spanish police carrying out strict Schengen rule checks for those crossing with British passports.
Picardo insisted that Gibraltar’s sovereignty was a red line for negotiations: “As I have said in every statement I have made on this matter in this House, nothing will ever cleave Gibraltar from the United Kingdom. Nothing will ever rip us from Britain,” he insisted.
He also alluded to the fact that the negotiations were unchartered territory: “By seeking mobility of goods and persons we are seeking, in effect, to carve a niche for ourselves in the infrastructure of the EU which cannot in any way threaten the integrity of the single market or the security of the Schengen area.”
He concluded: “We are within touching distance of a historic treaty… between the UK and the EU… that, if we can get there, will create renewed optimism in the European idea itself.”
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