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Brexit: La Línea Sends Final S.O.S. for an Agreement that Ensures Fluidity at the Frontier

Soraya Fernández

The mayor of La Línea, alongside other municipal spokesmen for various political parties, have signed an official joint declaration in a last-ditch effort to ask Spain and the United Kingdom to ensure fluidity at the Frontier and avoid disaster.

La Línea | ©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

La Línea has fired its last cartridges to ensure that an agreement is reached between Spain and the United Kingdom that guarantees fluidity in the Frontier only a few short days before Brexit finally happens.

Mayor of La Línea, Juan Franco, and the spokespersons for the municipal groups of the La Línea 100×100 party, the PSOE and the PP have signed a joint institutional declaration in which they ask for one last effort to be made to ensure fluidity between La Línea and Gibraltar, and to lay the foundations for turning the zone into an “area of shared prosperity”.

The document was signed on Monday morning, December 28th, and will be sent to the Government of Spain, the Junta de Andalucía, the Provincial Council of Cádiz and the Commonwealth of Municipalities of Campo de Gibraltar; calling on them all to join in the effort to achieve these goals.

Over four years have elapsed since the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), and the overwhelming results of that same referendum in Gibraltar saw a striking 96% of the voters opting to remain.

La Linea Juan Franco SOS Brexit Gibraltar Frontier

“These four and a half years have been marked by tensions, ups and downs and uncertainty. At last, an exit agreement has been reached between the EU and the UK. The situation with respect to Gibraltar has been conditioned by the special position that the Government of Spain was going to have in the negotiations to this effect,” the statement says.

The signatories further recall that, although an agreement has been reached on the situation of cross-frontier workers, which allows them to maintain their current status quo, the issue of mobility between the territories, of Spain and Gibraltar, remains to be resolved, in all other respects.

La Línea | ©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

In this sense, they highlight that reports “through the media is not at all encouraging since it seems that there are truly important differences that make reaching an agreement difficult at this late hour”.

The La Linea political leaders further pointed out to the risks that the city faces, in which there are currently some 11,000 people who work in Gibraltar and a commercial and business network that invoices an average of between 30 and 40% of its revenues to Gibraltarian clients, “this is enormous given the situation that could arise, since, in practice, any obstruction in the passage through the Frontier can generate catastrophic damage to our economy”.

©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

For this reason, the municipal spokespersons of the City Council of La Línea are urging the Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom to come to an agreement “that allows mobility, not only of workers, but also of companies and people in general, between Spain and Gibraltar, with the fluidity required to be able to maintain a situation of normality as has been enjoyed to date”.

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Secondly, they are remining that fluidity in transit between the two territories is a sine qua non for laying the foundations that allow the creation of an area of shared prosperity, which is what the Spanish Government wants.

“The rights of people must come above all other considerations and human, social, family, sports, cultural and any other kind of ties between both communities must be fostered with this vital fluidity”, they point out.

Finally, they expressed “serious and deep concern” about all the above and encourage the negotiations currently underway to bear fruit within a win-win framework, “where we all win”.

La Linea Juan Franco SOS Brexit Gibraltar Frontier

After reading this statement, the mayor of La Línea stressed that a failure to reach such an agreement could have “very grave consequences for the future”, and that is why this new S.O.S has been launched “from a position of absolute loyalty and beyond political colours and ideas. First come the interests of the neighbouring communities”.

Juan Franco, who did no go into detail about what exactly is holding up an agreement, has assured that with this Statement, La Línea is pleading “that a last effort be made to achieve an agreement that allows us to survive and settle the foundations to achieve a zone of shared prosperity”, something that he has assured will be impossible without fluidity in the Frontier.

Gibraltar Spain Frontier State of Alarm
©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

“This is a Brexit within Brexit”, he added, and asked for “sensitivity and commitment to close this cycle in the best possible way and from there, focus on other problems. This declaration is a desperate cry for help,” said the mayor.

The PP spokesman in the City Council, Juan Pablo Arriaga, who acknowledged that he has not spoken with his party about the institutional joint statement, said that this was not a competition of the kind that groups contest during the carnivals at the Falla Theater in Cádiz, and has opted “for a Schengen arrangement” at the Frontier, while asking for an agreement to be reached “as soon as possible”.

For his part, the PSOE spokesman, Juan Chacón, has said that La Linea should not be treated as the Cinderella of this story. “We already had a Brexit in 1969. The resulting damage is etched in our DNA. We ask that an agreement be reached and that an area of shared prosperity be created because we deserve it”.

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