HomeEuropeAs transition ends, Gibraltar faces no-deal Brexit

As transition ends, Gibraltar faces no-deal Brexit

LONDON — An agreement on how to preserve free movement between Gibraltar and the EU, including with its closest neighbor Spain, remains elusive just over 24 hours before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Wendy Morton, the British minister for the European neighborhood, confirmed Wednesday that the governments of the U.K., Gibraltar and Spain have not yet reached a deal on this issue despite “extensive discussions.”

The three sides have for months negotiated arrangements to allow Gibraltar to be linked to the Schengen Area for passport-free travel, but they remain at loggerheads over practical details and the impact of such a deal on the U.K.’s sovereignty over the Rock.

Morton said all parties are discussing how to “mitigate” the impacts of the end of the Brexit transition on Gibraltar and the operation of its border with Spain.

Her comments comes after Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya warned Monday that if there is no agreement with London, Gibraltar will be “the only place where a hard Brexit is applied” with consequences such as Gibraltarians being required to have their passport stamped when crossing the border, and long queues of lorries at border posts.

“All sides recognized the challenging nature of this process at the outset of talks,” Morton said in a statement. “Although an agreement has not yet been reached, we are continuing our discussions with Spain in order to safeguard Gibraltar’s interests, and those of the surrounding region.”

Morton pointed the finger of blame toward the European Commission for excluding Britain’s Overseas Territories (OTs), such as Gibraltar, from the overall Brexit deal.

Earlier in the Brexit process, the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez succeeded in ensuring that negotiations on Gibraltar were bilateral between the U.K. and Spain, rather than between the U.K. and the EU.

“Despite trying everything we could, the European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the OTs,” Morton said. “We sought to change the Commission’s position, but it declined to engage.”

Speaking in the House of Commons during Wednesday’s debate on the Brexit deal, Conservative MP Bob Neill said the U.K. has a “political and moral obligation” to secure a post-Brexit deal for Gibraltar.

“We gave a clear undertaking to the people of Gibraltar, who although they voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union are equally determined to remain part of the British family, that we would not leave them behind and would not leave the European Union without securing a deal for them too,” he said.



Source by [author_name]

- Advertisment -