Spain’s foreign minister says post-Brexit deal on Gibraltar ‘must include joint use of airport’

A POST-BREXIT deal between Spain and the UK covering Gibraltar ‘must include joint use of the airport’. That’s according to the Spanish foreign minister, Jose Manuel Albares, who made the statement during a wide-ranging interview published on Sunday in newspaper El Pais

His comments come ahead of fresh talks this week about the future of the British Overseas Territory, which will include the UK and Spain as well as representatives from the European Union. A deal is thought to be close between the two sides. 

Since the 2016 Brexit vote to leave the UK, issues such as the border between Gibraltar and Spain and the use of the airport have been points of contention. Currently, flights from the EU cannot land in Gibraltar due to the long-standing territorial dispute between Spain and the UK over the sovereignty of the city.  

Denys Shmyhal Meet With Manuel Albarez Bueno
Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares in a file photo. (Credit Image: © Yuliia Ovsyannikova/Ukrinform via ZUMA Press Wire)

“Spain has presented a global, balanced and generous proposal that includes the free circulation of people and goods, the disappearance of the physical border, and also the use of the airport on the European side,” Albares told El Pais. “All of those elements that constitute an area of shared prosperity between Gibraltar and [neighbouring] Campo de Gibraltar.”

The Socialist Party minister added that it is now ‘up to the United Kingdom to decide if it wants this or the simple application of European legislation’ He added that he ‘also saw a constructive spirit on the other side’.

Pressed further on the issue of the airport, in particular if it is ‘essential to include it in the deal’, Albares asked: “What sense does it make to leave out an element as beneficial for the population as the airport?” 

He added that he thought that the arrival of flights from Spain and other European countries would be an ‘advance’, and that it would ‘promote tourism and relationships’. 

“The airport has to be in the deal, of course,” he said. 

Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office was asked for comment on Sunday by news agency Reuters, but did not immediately respond. 

Talks on an EU treaty for Gibraltar began again last Monday in the city of Malaga, John Culatto reports, after a pause for elections in both the British Overseas Territory and Spain. On Wednesday, negotiations are due to restart in London between the UK and the European Commission. 

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