Coronavirus: Fabian Picardo ‘Brexit has prepared us well’
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The British Overseas Territory is not covered by the UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement and separate negotiations with the EU are set to take place to agree on a post-Brexit treaty. Following several delays, which were condemned by Madrid and London, the European Commission is now expected to publish its negotiating mandate next week, which will then be approved by the Council.
A framework agreement was agreed between Britain and Spain on December 31 last year to outline Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU ahead of a treaty being agreed.
The final treaty will address issues including border crossings and trade and would secure fluidity of movement for people crossing the border between Spain and Gibraltar as well as the free movement of goods.
The agreement would also aim to scrap paperwork required by around 10,000 Spaniards and Gibraltar residents who cross the border daily to work.
But Juan Gonzalez-Barba, Spain’s State Secretary for European Union affairs, said at a press conference this morning that securing a mandate in the spirit of the framework agreement “hasn’t been easy”.
He added: “It’s taken a long time because it hasn’t been easy to convey the spirit of the New Year’s Eve agreement to commission officials.
“Because in many aspects, it will mean creating an ad hoc regime.
“There was no precedent for some of the things we want to do and all of that, in any administrative organisation, not just the European Commission, requires more time in order to convince those responsible for the different services that what is sought is, firstly, in line with the community acquis, and secondly, is in the interests not just of Spain, the UK and of course Gibraltar, but of the European Union.”
The Spanish Minister also warned that all sides would have to “cede something” from their opening positions.
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He said: “A negotiation will commence and each side will have its own mandate and an idea of what, at the end of it, will be the landing zones where positions can converge.
“Ultimately, everyone has to win, that’s the important thing, and everyone has to cede something.
“This is not an agreement in which opening positions will be maintained 100 percent, as in all negotiations.”
But the UK Government is urging Brussels to respect the Rock’s sovereignty ahead of the talks, with a UK Government source adding: “Any treaty will ensure the sovereignty of the rock is respected.”
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Hugh Elliott, UK ambassador to Spain, added: “We’re ready, we’ve had many preparatory conversations.
“We want to convert this framework agreement into a treaty, faithfully following what was agreed [in December], and I think this is a task that we have to finish in the coming months and which we want to do for the prosperity of everyone in the area, from Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar.
“This is going to be very important for the area.”
A Brussels source said the negotiating mandate was “very close” to completion.
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