The Brexit Offices in La Línea and Algeciras are guiding individuals and companies on possible post-Brexit scenarios. Questions on pensions, employment, transit through the frontier have dominated.
The departure of the UK, and therefore the Rock of Gibraltar, from the European Union will also have significant consequences for citizens, businesses and public administrations in the neighbouring areas of Spain. There are just 3 months left until the transition period ends and Brexit materialises. This will take place on December the 31st, and it is still not known whether this divorce will occur with or without an agreement.
In anticipation of what might lie ahead, the Junta de Andalucía has produced a package of measures under the name of “Programa Andaluz de Medidas de Preparación y Contingencia” (“Andalusian Program of Preparedness and Contingency Measures”) in the face of the UK’s withdrawal. The package contains 112 measures, including the opening of two Brexit Information Offices for Andalusian companies and individuals, paying special attention to the municipalities of the Campo de Gibraltar.
The Brexit Information Offices are providing information as well as consultancy on any Brexit-related issues, and more specifically on transit through customs, tariffs, approvals, residence and visas.
The first information office opened on January 21st in Algeciras, located in the headquarters of the sub-delegation of the Junta de Andalucía, at the Calle Real. In February, a greatly anticipated office opened in La Línea, at the Tourism Office next to the Plaza de la Constitución, which so far is proving to be of vital importance.
The La Línea office is run by ‘Extenda’, the Andalusian Agency for Foreign Promotion, a body dependent on the Ministry of the Presidency, Public Administration and Interior of the Junta de Andalucia, with the objective of promoting the ‘internationalisation’ of Andalusian companies, regardless of sector or size.
Extenda offers training, information, specialised consultation, finance, marketing and international support services for the business sector, both for the protection of Spanish business in the British market as well as redirecting business to alternative destinations.
ReachExtra wanted to find out more on the progress of these two offices, and the kinds of services that they provide. Both offices offer legal advice and attend consultations, both in person, online and phone. According to data provided by the sub-delegation of the Junta in the Campo de Gibraltar, up until mid-September, both offices carried out over 10,000 procedures; most of them in La Línea, especially in relation to cross-frontier workers and businesses.
The sub-delegate for the Junta de Andalucía in the Campo de Gibraltar, Eva Pajares, explained to ReachExtra that the La Línea office is managed through an Extenda consultancy, and has focussed more on advising companies on how to deal with Brexit.
According to Pajares, the most frequent queries addressed to both offices concern the treatment to be given to pensions when the transitional period ends, whether or not to register marriges contracted between people from both sides of the frontier should be reregistered; the future employment situation of Spanish workers on the Rock, the transit of vehicles and how it will affect companies with subsidiaries in Gibraltar; but also inquiries about British-owned properties in Spain or about companies, mainly in the agricultural sector, which export to the UK.
“They have also recommended companies that offer support service for the marketing of their products of services internationally”, adds Pajares.
Since opening, 95 inquiries have been handled in both offices and 79 information packages issued. In addition, 10,316 companies have been contacted by email and 907 by telephone.
Three webinars on Brexit have also been held. One was on June 2 and was entitled ‘Queries and concerns about Brexit’, which attracted more than 33 participants. On the 16th of that same month, another was given on preparing for Brexit, which brought together 89 attendees and another, held on July 8, focused on opportunities for food products in the United States which had registered 89 attendees.
The Junta is certain that this number of consultations and procedures will increase as the negotiations progress, and the relationship between the UK and Gibraltar with the European Union become clearer so that as the 31st of December approaches every closer, a substantial increase in enquiries is expected.
This was confirmed by Pajares, who sees these offices a success, which have been shown to be “a very useful and necessary tool”, although she acknowledges that work continues “with the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen as from December 31st.” “I imagine that as we get closer to the date, and we know how things will play out, we will be able to resolve many more doubts and queries,” she explained.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of Brexit, Eva Pajares is optimistic about the future of Campo de Gibraltar and advocates maintaining good relations with Gibraltar:
“After everything that we have been enduring with this unexpected pandemic over the last 6 months, I think that the most coherent and sensible thing to do is to reach agreements and that this transition be as smooth as possible for the Campo de Gibraltar. The best that could happen to us is for relations with Gibraltar to remain as they have been until now; i.e. cordial and neighbourly relations, which should not be negatively impacted by Brexit. I hope that the effects of the exit are felt as little as possible in our mutual relations and, of course, that it does not harm cross-frontier workers”.
Contact Brexit Office La Línea
TELEPHONE: 0034 671 530 072
Contact Brexit Office Algeciras
PHONE: 0034 956 02 70 00