Madrid-The recent Brexit trade agreement has caused relief in the United Kingdom and the European Union, but there are still some questions on the negotiating table, including how to deal with Gibraltar, the British territory at the southern tip of Spain, whose sovereignty has long been disputed by Madrid . .
On Thursday, Spanish Foreign Minister Alancha González Laya announced a last-minute agreement with the negotiators of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar, which avoided the possibility of passengers and cargo stranded at the border from Friday.
The draft agreement will allow visa-free travel between Gibraltar and Spain. As part of the transaction, European institutions will monitor the arrival of Gibraltar by land, sea and air. People arriving from the UK will need to undergo passport control as they do now.
Spain has urged that the negotiations on Gibraltar be separated from the main Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Gibraltar is known as the “Rock” because of its 2.6 square mile territory. It has long surpassed its mission in the military and economic sense. It is both a gateway to the Mediterranean and a financial hub. Its corporate tax is far lower than that of the United Kingdom.
Due to geographical isolation, the residents and officials of Gibraltar are worried about the consequences of Brexit before the 2016 referendum. In the vote, 96% of Gibraltar voters tried to stay in the EU, but the British voted to leave as a whole.
Negotiators in Madrid, London and Gibraltar have worked through teleconferences in the past few weeks, scrambling to reach an agreement by January 1 to ensure goods and people in and out of Gibraltar even when the United Kingdom is no longer part of Europeans The smooth flow of alliances.
Issues including mutual recognition of labor permits and driving licenses are relatively easy to resolve, but the crux of the issue lies in the meaning of Gibraltar’s borders and who should supervise them.
Fearing that border inspections will isolate it and squeeze its economy, Gibraltar wants to enter the Spanish mainland uncontrolled. This is similar to the controls between some European countries in the Schengen area. In this case, travellers’ cheques are only used in emergency situations. It was only reintroduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gibraltar now has limited border controls because the United Kingdom has never joined the Schengen Agreement. After Brexit, Spain wants to ensure that the territory does not become a non-boarding entry point for people travelling to mainland Spain.
Ms. Gonzalez Laya said that the agreement reached on Thursday may take about six months to formally become a new treaty between the EU and the United Kingdom on Gibraltar, but she promised that Spain will “keep going beyond that The traffic on the border of the territory is the smoothest.” at the same time.
After Gibraltar reached an agreement, the leader of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said at a press conference: “We believe that we can now re-establish our relationship with Spain and look at it in a more positive light. “We will avoid the most serious consequences of Brexit.”
Because Spain wants to be responsible for the security of the border, the negotiation speed has slowed down, but Gibraltar proposed to be handled by Frontex, which is the EU agency responsible for monitoring the borders of the Schengen area.
Ms. González Laya said that according to the compromise announced on Thursday, “Schengen will become the head of Schengen control in Gibraltar together with Spain” and will cooperate with Frontex in the next four years. Frontex officials will control passengers at the port and airport of Gibraltar.
Officials in Brussels did not participate in the latest Gibraltar negotiations, while the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that the new border agreement should not have any impact on British sovereignty and the free circulation between Britain and Germany and Gibraltar.
The long negotiations on Gibraltar have angered those who have to cross the border every day, and businesses that transport goods across the border have already suffered from the pandemic.
“This is part of the eternal dispute over the sovereignty of Gibraltar, but the negotiators should have been able to resolve this issue as soon as possible, rather than forcing us to end the year with total uncertainty on the border, which we had to face at that time The deteriorating situation. Coronavirus in Gibraltar.” Jesús Moya, a Spanish employee of a food delivery company in Gibraltar, said he commuted from his home in Spain. “Having normal trade flows is essential, not only for Gibraltar but also for Spain.”
About 2,000 of Gibraltar’s nearly 34,000 residents were quarantined due to the coronavirus, and the authorities there decided to close the border with the UK before Christmas to curb the spread of a new, seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.
Given that they are geographically isolated at the southern tip of Spain, residents and officials in Gibraltar are concerned about the consequences of Brexit before the 2016 referendum. The British referendum was supported by the majority of the British people, but was rejected by 96% of the voters in Gibraltar.
Since the Utrecht Treaty gained control of Gibraltar in 1713, Britain has been dealing with Gibraltar’s defense and international relations. The Gibraltar government has great autonomy on trade and fiscal issues, which helps it become a hub for European financial services and online gaming.
In 1969, under the rule of General Francisco Franco, Spain closed its border with Gibraltar, making the territory dependent on British supplies and funds. Even if no barriers have been set up at the border in recent years, Spain has created major problems for Gibraltar by enforcing stricter customs control measures, making people and vehicles wait for hours to cross. In the past ten years, Britain and Spain have also had disputes over entering the waters of Gibraltar.
However, any strict control over the land borders of Gibraltar by Spain would also harm about 10,000 workers like Mr. Moya, who work there every day, mostly from nearby towns, which form economically depressed areas, the so-called Gibraltar gibraltar.
Ms. González Laya said: “We are responding to the wishes of our citizens.” She added that the agreement will give residents of nearby Spanish towns a “sigh of relief” while avoiding Gibraltar residents from facing Europe. The risk of “the only resolute Brexit border” even if they voted overwhelmingly to remain in the bloc.