‘Unacceptable!’ Gibraltar will ‘never’ accept EU treaty that ‘undermines UK sovereignty’
Picardo: Nothing will cleave Gibraltar from the UK
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Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, has been at the centre of a row between the UK and EU after Brexit. However, despite the UK and EU striking a trade deal, access to Gibraltar was not included. Under an EU proposal, Spain would gain control over the country’s external border.
The Government of Gibraltar has said they refuse to accept any proposal which gives control of its borders away.
In a statement, they said they are “fully united and blended” with the UK on the future of the country,
They added that “they will never accept a Treaty that resembles in any way the mandate issued by the European Commission”.
In the statement, Gibraltar suggested the EU’s proposals go “beyond the delicate balance reached in the New Year’s Eve Agreement on very sensitive issues and it is unacceptable for the Government as a basis for negotiation”.
Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, also welcomed the support of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab “for having so clearly stipulated the position of the United Kingdom, which is fully in line with ours”.
The British minister met with José Manuel Albares, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, during his visit to London.
Mr Picardo then said: “No one should believe that we would ever be prepared to accept the things set out in the EU’s draft negotiating mandate.
“We will not even be prepared to accept things that are close to that. But the notion that Spanish law enforcement officers might be present on our land, at our port or airport, is one that the Government or the people of Gibraltar will not accept.
“That is not something that can be finessed or negotiated. That is a non-negotiable red line.
“I have said so throughout this process and I will not change my mind or my position. The Cabinet as a whole will not change the position of Gibraltar.
“Anyone who wants to argue against that or think that they can negotiate around it are driving this process into a brick wall.”
It comes after Mr Raab decried the EU commission’s draft mandate for Spain to control Gibraltar’s border, saying it “directly conflicts” with the framework previously agreed between the EU, UK, Spain and Gibraltar earlier this year.
Under the EU Commission’s proposals, checks on people and goods at the land border between Spain and Gibraltar would be removed, as well as rules for establishing responsibility for asylum, visas, residence permits and police cooperation.
However, Spain would request the assistance of Frontex agents to exercise control of the external border with Gibraltar, according to Mr Albares.
On Tuesday, Mr Raab said: “The UK, with Gibraltar, and Spain carefully agreed a pragmatic framework agreement, in full consultation with the EU Commission.
“The commission’s proposed mandate, published today, directly conflicts with that framework. It seeks to undermine the UK’s sovereignty over Gibraltar, and cannot form a basis for negotiations.
“We have consistently showed pragmatism and flexibility in the search for arrangements that work for all sides, and we are disappointed that this has not been reciprocated. We urge the EU to think again.”
Mr Albares defended the proposals during his visit to London, stressing to Mr Raab the need to create “a climate of trust” in the Rock because “there are many interests at stake”.
EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic added the draft mandate seeks a “positive impact” for those living and working on either side of the border with Spain while protecting the single market.
He said: “By putting forward this draft mandate, we are honouring the political commitment we made to Spain to start the negotiations of a separate agreement between the EU and the UK on Gibraltar.
“This is a detailed mandate, which aims to have a positive impact for those living and working on either side of the border between Spain and Gibraltar while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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