Politics

Gibraltar and UK hit back after von der Leyen hints Brexit treaty will favour EU

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 a post-Brexit treaty. London, Gibraltar and Madrid wanted talks for the cooperation treaty could be concluded by the end of June.

However, the timeline was delayed as the European Commission was yet to conclude seeking a mandate from the European Council despite London and Gibraltar already concluding their negotiation mandate.

In a sign that upcoming negotiations with the bloc may be tough, Fabian Picardo warned once the mandate had concluded, it could contain aspects not to the Rock’s liking as well as the UK.

He added: “We must all realise that when the mandate does emerge, it will be the EU’s opening position, it will not be the treaty itself.

“As an opening position, it will contain the EU’s initial approach to the treaty.”

The final treaty is expected to address key issues including the fluidity of movement for people crossing the border between Spain and the British Overseas Territory.

An agreement would also aim to scrap bureaucratic paperwork which is required by up to 10,000 Spaniards and Gibraltar residents who cross the border daily to work.

Ahead of the talks, Ministers at 6 Convent Place have made clear they wanted a guarantee of “continued, undiluted” British Sovereignty over the Rock.

Mr Picardo stressed: “We have long experience over different governments of having to take the EU on in respect of some of aspects of its approach to Gibraltar, and we will not be afraid of doing so now.

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“In any event, and despite our continued optimism, we will continue to plan for all eventualities.”

It comes after European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said any agreement would have to be “compatible with the Union’s interests.”

In a European Parliament response, she also said any treaty would have to be “compatible with EU law, including the Protocol on Gibraltar of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.”

Tonight, the UK Government agreed with Mr Picardo with a source adding: “Ms von der Leyen’s remarks seem to signal that they [the EU] will be difficult to deal with.

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Brexit: UK and Spain agree on draft deal for Gibraltar

“We will stand by Gibraltar and will be prepared to take them [the EU] head on to achieve the best deal possible.”

It comes after an initial framework agreement was agreed between Spain and the UK in December 2020.

This framework agreement outlines Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU ahead of a treaty being agreed.

The European Commission said they were “currently working on a draft negotiation mandate, which will be proposed to the Council.”

 

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