Gibraltar row erupts as talks at risk of ‘failing’ over Spanish control of UK Rock border
Gibraltar: Morton discusses priorities in post-Brexit relations
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Both sides met on Monday in the first round of talks on post-Brexit arrangements regarding the British Overseas territory. Talks were positive but deep divisions remain in the negotiating positions between Brussels and London.
The European Commission is calling for the Spanish border force to help police Gibraltar’s ports, as suggested in its draft negotiation mandate.
But UK officials have reacted in fury to this pledge and made clear this “undermines the UK’s sovereignty over Gibraltar” and have instead requested that Frontex, the pan-EU border force, to manage the Spanish border.
Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, said: “I am pleased to say that I believe that there was a positive approach on display from all in the negotiating room.”
However, Mr Picardo stressed: “I remain optimistic and believe it will be possible to find a route to a treaty, although I am also realistic enough to know that we could still fail.
“I will continue to work towards resolving issues positively in a manner that protects all our important and fundamental equities and does not compromise us in any of those key areas.”
A spokesperson for the Government of Gibraltar said: “The Government of Gibraltar is satisfied with the progress made in the first round of talks between the UK and the EU.
“Although the parties have presented their respective and sometimes opposing views on the best way In implementing the New Year’s Eve Agreement, the relevant exchanges have been carried out in a mutually constructive and positive spirit.
“We look forward to continuing this process in future rounds of talks in the weeks to come.”
Gibraltar was not included in the December 2020 Trade and Cooperation Agreement the EU and Britain struck late last year.
Therefore, a treaty needs to be agreed which set out the basis of their relationship and mechanisms after the UK leaves the EU.
The treaty negotiations come after a British-Spanish deal was agreed on New Year’s Eve 2020 which has to be codified in a UK-EU treaty before it can be enforced.
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The deal will eventually allow Gibraltar to become part of the Schengen passport-free area.
It paves the way for the demolition of a controversial border through which about 15,000 workers pass daily.
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