The European Commission will present a mandate next week to negotiate post-Brexit relations with Gibraltar. Among other things, Frontex officials will be stationed on the territory of Gibraltar to avoid the “hard” border with Spain.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located at the southern tip of Spain. Madrid and London reached an interim agreement on December 31, 2020 – just hours before the UK formally leaves the European Union – to keep the land border with Spain open.
The goal was to avoid the difficult border that would affect the approximately 10,000 workers who commute daily from the Spanish border region to Gibraltar – an important pillar of the local economy.
Once the European Council approves the new negotiating mandate, talks can begin between the EU Commission and the British government. Ultimately, they want to agree on a treaty that formally excludes British Overseas Territories from the post-Brexit agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The special Spanish-British regulation could then also be abolished.
The two sides had originally hoped to sign the new contract by the end of June. After various delays, the negotiating mandate was supposed to be given this week, but has been pushed back until next week – possibly to July 20, although the exact date has yet to be confirmed, EU sources told EURACTIV.com. .
For its part, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Frontex officials will “help” the Spanish authorities during the implementation phase. Some government sources even indicated that after four years, Spanish border guards could also take over border control at the port and Gibraltar airport.
Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, downplayed the negotiating mandate and stressed that it was only the “opening position of the EU”. What is ultimately important is “what the final treaty looks like and what is in it, not when or what the EU mandates,” he wrote in a July 1 statement.
In the run-up to the Brexit talks, Spain secured a veto over the implementation of a future agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar, the sovereignty of which remains between Madrid and London controversial.
The December 2020 agreement between Spain and the UK did not deal with the contentious issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty at the time.
Meanwhile, it is generally expected in Brussels that the new treaty will also bind Gibraltar to the EU’s customs area and related environmental and labor regulations.
In addition, Madrid and London have already signed an agreement to end Gibraltar’s financial system, which has turned the isolated into a tax haven.
[Hinweis: Dies ist eine gekürzte Übersetzung. Den Originalartikel in voller Länge (auf Englisch) finden Sie hier. Bearbeitet von Zoran Radosavljevic und Tim Steins]