Spain and the United Kingdom have, in principle, reached an agreement on free movement between the British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar and Spain. This is less than a day before Frontier becomes the only Hardland border created by. Brexit..
“The border gates could be lifted and control between Gibraltar and Spain could be lifted,” said Arancha Gonzalez Raya, Spanish Foreign Minister.
“We intend to avoid the worst effects of hard Brexit,” said Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar.
The UK’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said the agreement would form the basis of a separate treaty between the UK and the EU on Gibraltar, “maintaining support for Gibraltar and protecting its sovereignty. “He added.
The agreement effectively makes Gibraltar part of the Schengen Freedom Area and transforms Gibraltar’s airports and ports into the EU frontier. More than 90% of the people of Gibraltar voted to stay in the EU in the Brexit referendum, and since then Gibraltar has sought closer ties with the EU than before Brexit. Similarly, Ms. Gonzales states that Spain’s “vision” is to “remove the border fence.”
However, the six-month negotiations over the Free Movement Agreement have stalled on how to crack down on entry into the Schengen Area, which is currently within the British Overseas Territories.
Madrid had suggested that EU Border and Coast Guard Frontex officials wanted to pass through airports and ports as a temporary confidence-building measure, but claimed that Spain would be responsible for the outside world as an EU member state. .. EU border. As part of that, the Government of Gibraltar has made it clear that it will not accept Spanish officials who control the border.
This issue is particularly sensitive due to the ongoing sovereignty dispute since Gibraltar was ceded to the United Kingdom under the Peace of Utrecht in 1713.
In principle, Gonzales claimed that Spain was responsible for overseeing the Schengen Agreement in announcing the agreement, but said Frontex agents would support border control during the four-year transition period. She refused to identify where Spanish customs and police officers were during or after that period.
“People should never be worried” that Spain’s Civil Guard is coming to Gibraltar, Picardo argued.
It will take about six months to convert the agreement into an EU-UK treaty, Gonzales said. Meanwhile, current frontier controls along the Spanish-Gibraltar border will be managed in line with the Schengen Agreement.
The free movement of people between the two regions is especially important for workers in this region. Approximately 15,000 people work across borders each day, most of them from the Spaniards to the Gibraltar side. With poor employment prospects in the Spanish frontier region of Campo de Gibraltar, where the unemployment rate is close to 40%, the damage to the local economy caused by the tough borders would have devastated these workers.
The New Year’s Eve deal “removes the barriers to creating a zone of shared prosperity,” Gonzales said. “In principle, without this agreement, Gibraltar would be the only place for hard Brexit, and that concern would weigh heavily on the negotiations.”
Picardo said: “This wasn’t easy. In fact, when we signed the agreement, we think we felt the wires dig into our bodies.”
Spain and Britain have agreed on a deal to keep the border of Gibraltar open
https://www.ft.com/content/e02265c4-6d17-47d6-9076-792ee154eb65 Spain and Britain have agreed on a deal to keep the border of Gibraltar open