Gibraltar, to the foreseeable relief of the Spanish Government, only appears once mentioned in the trade agreement reached this Thursday by Brussels and London.
The text, to which EL PAÍS has had access, only refers to the Rock to indicate that “this agreement will not apply in Gibraltar nor will it have effects in that territory.” Unlike the Brexit agreement, when Spain found at least ambiguous references to the future relationship of the EU with London in relation to the Rock, this time the text is crystal clear and blunt.
The clause confirms that Brexit has represented a before and after in the relationship of the Rock with the European Union and, therefore, with Spain and with its London metropolis.
The change is a consequence of the agreement to exit the United Kingdom from the EU in which Spain, after threatening to veto it, managed to incorporate declarations of the European Council and the European Commission, assuming that “ Gibraltar will not be included in the territorial scope of the agreements concluded between the Union and the United Kingdom ”.
Brussels thus recognized that, as of the Brexit consummated on January 31, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar would have to negotiate separate agreements with the EU. And Spain would always have the last word on what was agreed with the Rock.
In fact, the trade agreement between Brussels and London has been reached without the parallel negotiations between Madrid and London on the Gibraltar lace in the new situation having been concluded.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya , said this Friday from San Sebastián that Spain is going to seek “until the last second” an agreement on Gibraltar, because “to build an area of shared prosperity that facilitates mobility ” Is the best option”.
The minister pointed out that reaching an agreement “that facilitates the mobility of citizens is the best option, both for Spain and for the citizens of Gibraltar.” But he has warned that “there is less and less time ” to close it. According to sources close to the negotiation, the contacts are being tense, particularly on the British side.
If these talks are successfully closed, Gibraltar would benefit for the first time and with Spain from the advantages of the Schengen border agreement , which allows the free movement of people through 26 European countries (22 from the EU, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and of which the United Kingdom was never part.
Interestingly, Llanitos would enjoy greater freedom of movement across Europe after Brexit than during the UK’s 47 years of EU membership.
But the agreement that Spain and the United Kingdom finalize would de facto mean that Gibraltar would become the external border of the EU under tacit or real control of Spain. In fact, the British who travel to Gibraltar will have to undergo passport control to visit the Rock, while the Spanish will be able to freely enter that territory dependent on London.
That point causes the last obstacle to reaching an agreement, because the role that the European Agency of the Border and Coast Guard (Frontex) will play in the pact is being negotiated.
The Gibraltarian authorities prefer that this community body participate in the control of their borders, so as not to incorporate the presence of Spanish security forces. But, in any case, Spain is a member of Frontex and, therefore, a stakeholder, while the United Kingdom is already outside the community structures.