Is Gibraltar going back to Spanish?

Spain and UK step closer to agreement on Gibraltar

by Lorraine Williamson
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There is still no agreement between Spain and the UK on Gibraltar, but it is a step closer. That is the conclusion that can be drawn from the meeting held in Brussels on Friday. There, the foreign ministers of both countries, José Manuel Albares and Lord David Cameron, met. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and Gibraltar’s Prime Minister Fabian Picardo were also present.

Never before has the European Parliament met at such a high level, in the presence of the Foreign Ministers, on this matter. A total of 18 technical meetings have been held to move forward with a pact. This now seems to be just around the corner.

Positive atmosphere

The discussions took place in a constructive atmosphere. The parties have certainly made progress. Broad guidelines have been agreed on key policy lines, including airports, cargo transport and mobility. Negotiations will continue in the coming weeks to conclude the agreement between the EU and the UK.

It was the first time that a meeting of four took place in this form. As soon as he arrived in Brussels, Albares was optimistic about the progress that could be made. However, he stuck to a phrase that he has been repeating over and over lately. “Nothing is finished until everything is completed”.

But five years after Brexit, the issue of Gibraltar has yet to be settled. Gibraltar was one of the main points of the negotiations after the UK’s departure from the EU, as it is now an extra-EU border for a member state like Spain.

Agreement requires the express approval of Spain

The purpose of the negotiations on the final agreement is therefore to establish a definitive framework for relations between Gibraltar and the European Union and between the Rock and Spain. All EU agreements with Gibraltar require the approval of Spain.

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The final agreement will definitively settle essential issues in the relationship between Gibraltar and Spain, such as the access of people and goods or the type of physical and fiscal border between the two territories.

Agreement must guarantee prosperity of the region

Albares reiterated that “there are already agreements on general policies” and that he does not want to go into “details” at this time. “The negotiations are at their peak and we want to protect them and ensure that they are successfully concluded. We still have a few weeks of intensive work ahead of us, but we have all shown our commitment to reach a final agreement, which will be good for the whole population,” the minister told journalists. “The agreement must guarantee the future prosperity of the entire region. And bring confidence, legal certainty and stability to the lives and livelihoods of people across the region. Without prejudice to the legal positions of the parties.

Spanish minister wants to reach an agreement as soon as possible

“We haven’t set a date yet,” Albares said of the end of the talks, despite the fact that there are only two months to go until the European elections. This moment could be an impasse in this kind of contact. “I wish it was tomorrow, and Spain will leave no stone unturned to do it as soon as possible”. Everything is still open, but it seems that the most important steps have already been taken.

Spain has always demanded the return of the rock

Under no circumstances will the agreements, in which Spain has full power, entail a loss of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty over the colony. This is despite the fact that the decolonisation of the territory has been a Spanish demand for decades. The government’s official position demands that the rock be “reintegrated” into the national territory and refers to the United Nations provisions on the decolonisation process, urging the United Kingdom to negotiate bilaterally on this.

Also read: Talks between UK, Spain, EU, and Gibraltar

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