THE chief of European border agency Frontex has said ‘it would be an honour’ to handle control at Gibraltar’s frontiers under the post-Brexit agreement currently being thrashed out.
“If Spain, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and the European Commission ask Frontex to take on this work or to support this type of task, it would be an honour for us”, Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri said in an interview with Spanish news agency Europa Press on Sunday.
This would involve controlling the entry and exit of citizens through the port and airport in Gibraltar, carrying out tasks such as checking identity documents or visas where necessary.
“We know that Spain and also the UK have expressed a desire for the Frontex Permanent Corps to be able to assist at Gibraltar’s external border entry,” he said.
The Frenchman said that ‘everyone is working, including the (European) Commission, to find the legal framework to make this possible’ and enable Gibraltar to form part of the Schengen zone despite Brexit.
Both the UK government and Gibraltar had rejected the latest plan from the EU in post-Brexit treaty negotiations over the future of Gibraltar insisting that the bloc “think again” after it seemed to hand responsibility for border control to Spain.
This ‘crossed red lines’ and went against the framework agreement of December, when it was agreed that Frontex would carry out this role, rather than Spain.
However relations between Spain and the UK thawed over the issue after a bilateral meeting on July 21 in London.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, both showed willingness to reach an agreement that would generate prosperity between the Rock and the Gibraltar area.
Albares reiterated Spain’s intention to request the assistance of Frontex agents to control the external borders with Gibraltar.
On Twitter, Raab gave ‘muchas gracias’ to Albares for ‘giving the UK the honour’ of choosing him as the destination for his first overseas visit and added that the two discussed ‘ways to deepen the bilateral relationship’.