Crunch Gibraltar Brexit talks continue as future of Rock hangs in balance

Gibraltar: British Royal Navy boat clashes with Spanish Customs

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Negotiations on a treaty between Brussels and the UK on the EU’s future relationship with Gibraltar are expected to restart today. The sixth round of talks will continue into next week on March 1 and 2 in London.

According to the Gibraltar Chronicle, negotiators believe there will probably be additional rounds of talks to translate the agreement reached by Spain and the UK on New Year’s Eve 2020.

Gibraltar is not covered by the Brexit trade deal struck between Brussels and Downing Street in 2020. This means a separate agreement about the future of the British Overseas Territory is required.

This month, Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, said negotiators were aiming for a deal by Easter, but would meet again for “as many rounds as necessary”.

Mr Albares ruled out any blockages to the Gibraltar agreement and said: “It’s getting closer and closer.”

The foreign minister said a “significant part” of the treaty had “already been agreed” although nothing is “agreed until everything is agreed”.

Mr Albares continued: “A significant part of [the treaty] has already been agreed, although nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

“And I can’t go into details.

“[But] I have the sense that we are all rowing in the same direction.”

He added: “As we approach the end of the negotiation, which is almost at 99 percent, there is more tension, but for us, for the government of Pedro Sánchez, there will be no lack of generosity in any practical or daily aspect.

“I perceive on the other side that good will on their part.”

Negotiators hope to reach an agreement allowing a common travel area between Gibraltar and the Schengen zone.

Spain would take responsibility on behalf of the EU for Schengen immigration checks in Gibraltar.

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But Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – would carry out the actual physical controls on the ground for at least the first four years.

There is also the possibility of a bespoke arrangement on customs.

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory but is also the subject of a territorial claim by Spain.

It was a subject of contention during the EU divorce talks where the Spanish government was accused of using Brexit to snatch back the territory.

It was captured in 1704 and by 1713 the Spanish Crown formally ceded the territory to the British Crown.

Spain attempted to recapture the territory twice.

It was a subject of contention during the divorce talks where the Spanish government was accused of using Brexit to snatch back the territory.

During the 2016 Brexit referendum, Gibraltar asserted its right to have its vote counted alongside the rest of the UK.

Gibraltarians voted to remain part of the European Union with 95.9 percent.

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