Britain, Gibraltar and Spain reached an agreement yesterday to avoid a "hard border" between Spain and Gibraltar following the end of the Brexit implementation period last night.
This is immensely important both to the people of Gibraltar, and to the people of the immediate area of southern Spain, as Gibraltar is an economic powerhouse for the area and thousands of Spanish people work on the Rock.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the deal will allow for “maximized and unrestricted mobility” of people between Gibraltar and the Schengen area.
“This has been a difficult process. We have been battling the tide of history, but with this agreement in principle we hope to start to see the future come into view. We are at the beginning of the creation of an area of shared prosperity,” he said.
Picardo praised Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for “insisting that he wanted to go beyond the eternal issue of sovereignty,” and British premier Boris Johnson “who has not forgotten Gibraltar in the Brexit negotiations.”
Picardo said Gibraltar might reach additional deals with Spain in the future, but this should not be interpreted as the Rock drifting away from the U.K.
“This is the beginning of us building a stronger relationship with the European Union and with our neighbour Spain in a way that doesn’t in any way cliff us away from the United Kingdom which is our principled relationship, the relationship that we want to nurture and grow, and we want to see endure in the best way possible,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed in a statement that Britain, Spain and Gibraltar have reached agreement on a “political framework” to form the basis of a separate treaty between the U.K. and the EU on Gibraltar. The deal reached yesterday has been submitted to the European Commission, which must transform it into an international treaty between the EU and the U.K, in a process that Spain's foreign minister González Laya expects to last about six months.
There will not be changes at the border during this period, the Spanish minister confirmed.
The statement from Dominic Raab said that
“We remain steadfast in our support for Gibraltar, and its sovereignty is safeguarded,” the statement said. “I am grateful to Foreign Minister Laya and her team for their positive and constructive approach. We have a warm and strong relationship with Spain, and we look forward to building on it in 2021.”