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Spain ‘Ready for Any Scenario’ as Gibraltar Talks with the UK

Talks to turn the agreement into a formal treaty started in October 2021

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

SPAIN: The EU and Spain are prepared for all scenarios, including a hard Brexit, when it comes to ties between the bloc and Gibraltar, said Spain’s foreign minister, claiming that after 11 rounds of negotiations, the ball is now in London’s court.

José Manuel Albares, the Spanish foreign minister, said that Spain does not desire a “no deal” situation. “The Spanish government and the EU, who ultimately signed the agreement with the UK, are ready for any scenario.”

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The Brexit withdrawal deal, which was declared on Christmas Eve 2020, did not mention Gibraltar. 

Days later, as the British territory was just hours away from being the sole land border affected by a hard Brexit, Madrid and London agreed to a principled agreement that supported the idea of bringing the territory under the umbrella of the EU’s Schengen zone.

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Talks to turn the agreement into a formal treaty started in October 2021. They sought to steer clear of the long-standing conflict over Madrid and London’s sovereignty as Spain and the EU faced off against a UK delegation that included Gibraltarian authorities.

Instead, emphasis was placed on common ground, such as the 15,000 Spaniards who enter Gibraltar daily to maintain a thriving economy on both sides of the border. Gibraltar has 34,000 inhabitants.

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However, the need to safeguard employees’ right to free movement has also given rise to a concern that has become a sticking point with the proposal: who will conduct passport checks on visitors that arrive at the Gibraltar airport?

Spain has maintained on numerous occasions that the Spanish police should be in charge of this as they are the Schengen sponsoring member.

Frontex, the EU’s border agency, has been pushed by the UK to take on the position.

300 years of history have muddled their positions; despite giving Gibraltar to Britain in 1713, Spain has long desired to regain the region.

Although there have reportedly been positive discussions and goodwill on both sides, the problem has appeared to hinder the negotiations, leading to parties withdrawing from the most recent proposition on the table.

“Obviously, we cannot be in this situation for ever,” stated Albares. Spain was “ready to sign tomorrow,” he said, calling the proposal “reasonable and balanced.” He declined to say how long Spain and the EU were prepared to hold out in the negotiations.

Gibraltar officials, where 96% of inhabitants chose to stay in the EU in 2016, are preparing for the worst. 

Late in November, a six-hour exercise simulating the effects of a stalemate in negotiations between the UK and the EU was conducted by more than a dozen ministries and agencies from the territory, in addition to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence of the UK.

Additional talks are expected to take place in the coming weeks, according to a statement from the Foreign Office, which described the mid-December meeting between James Cleverly, the British foreign secretary, and his Spanish counterpart as “a productive discussion.”

Also Read: FIFA World Cup 2022: Morocco Crushes Spain 3-0 Via Penalty Shootouts


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