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Spanish Foreign Minister Celebrates a “Day of Hope”

Chris Gomez

Gonzalez Laya says that people in the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar can now finally breathe easily.

This afternoon the Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya appeared at a Press Conference in which she announced that Gibraltar will be a part of the Schengen system. Spain will be the European Union member state responsible for the implementation of the Schengen Treaty when it comes to Gibraltar.

The Minister made it clear that although the granular technical detail as to how the system would be implemented was still up for discussion among the EU (led by Spain in this respect) and the UK, there would be a 4 year transition period in which fluidity at the frontier would be guaranteed without hindrance. She made it clear that her Government’s principal concern had been the assurance of mobility of citizens of the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar into each other’s territories.

This would be done by what she called the demolition of barriers as a means of creating a zone of shared prosperity based on principles of co-responsibility and inter-dependence. Gonzalez Laya said that this was in answer to the “call of the 21st Century”.

The agreement was without prejudice to the respective positions of sovereignty of each of the United Kingdom and Spain.

From a technical point of view the agreement would now be remitted to the European Commission and other EU institutions to be converted into the necessary directives and other legal instruments leading up to a dedicated Treaty as between the European Union and the United Kingdom in respect of Gibraltar. In the interim, she reiterated flexibility of controls including customs at the frontier would be maintained as was permitted under the Schengen provisions. There would be provisions to ensure that there was a level playing field in relation to commercial, labour, social and environmental issues.

Spain, as member state had called on the assistance of Frontex to build confidence and ensure security and the application of Frontex requirements at the Port of Gibraltar and Gibraltar International Airport.

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The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs remarked that it would have been a travesty if Gibraltar which had voted so overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union should have been the only territory to be subjected to a hard Brexit.

In answer to questions she confirmed that travellers from the United Kingdom to Gibraltar would have to show their passports because United Kingdom is not covered by the Schengen Treaty.

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The Minister thanked Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for his leadership and her technical team at the Spanish Foreign Ministry for the unceasing work which they had put in up to literally the very last moment overnight. She also had words of thanks for the British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab and his team and special “personal” words of appreciation for Gibraltarian Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and his team who had worked tirelessly in defence of the interests of the Gibraltarians.

Arrancha Gonzalez Laya said that she had informed the Spanish Regional Government who had a direct responsibility for the citizens in the Campo de Gibraltar and had asked to appear before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Congress early in the new year.

Stay tuned! Report on Chief Minister Fabian Picardo’s press conference to follow!

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