GIBRALTAR’S top two political leaders are in Spain’s Madrid ‘for technical and practical discussions’ as hopes rise for a deal to settle the territory’s post-Brexit future.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia left early on Wednesday morning for the meetings in the Spanish capital.
It follows the 14th round of negotiations in London on December 13-14 in London which saw the EU, UK and Spain try to make progress on the EU treaty.
The Rock’s government said it ‘remains fully committed to secure a safe and secure treaty for Gibraltar’.
But it added that it wants such an agreement to be ‘in line with the New Year’s Eve Agreement that avoids any party having to cede on fundamentals’.
Picardo announced the last minute framework agreement on the last day of 2019.
It secured the possibility of a future that was independent of mainland UK needs for Gibraltar.
Picardo has explained that Gibraltar’s treaty had to be different to Britain as it is connected to the EU by land and employs over 15,000 people that live in the nearby area of Spain’s Andalucia.
But over the last year, Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has put forward a deal that looks very different to the New Year’s Eve Agreeement.
He has proposed joint use of the airport and other issues not originally included in the ‘pre-deal’.
The UK has supported Gibraltar in finding a deal that is ‘safe and secure’ but also ‘beneficial’.
If agreed, it could see both Spain and the Rock remove frontier checks at the land border.
Instead, Frontex officers would process visitors to Gibraltar at both the air and sea ports.
But talks have lasted for over two years after COVID-19 delays and all sides want to get the deal done or settle for a closed border situation instead.
Picardo talked about how the ‘good will’ of the festive season could help push talks forward and it could be that all sides will be ready to sign the EU treaty soon.