Gibraltar breakthrough: EUs ties to Rock hashed out in key post-Brexit meeting

Gibraltar 'not willing to negotiate an inch' with Spain says expert

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European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic held a meeting in Brussels on Monday with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares to discuss the issue of Gibraltar and its relationship with the EU. Mr Albares said the meeting was focused on “coordinating” the positions of Spain and the EU for the negotiations over Gibraltar, which are being led by Mr Sefcovic. Mr Sefcovic said the two leaders are working “hand-in-hand” to advance the talks.

While the UK and the EU reached a trade agreement on 24 December 2020, the relationship between the EU and Gibraltar was not included in that agreement.

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory but it shares a land border with Spain.

Just before the transition period drew to a close, Spain and the UK struck a last-minute interim deal to avoid a hard border.

Under the terms of the deal, the territory remains part of the Schengen passport-free area, which means British citizens will need to go through a Schengen border post to enter Gibraltar through its airport and seaport.

During a four-year transition, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, called Frontex, will patrol both access points.

The EU and the UK are currently attempting to negotiate the final agreement, which will need approval from Spain.

A conclusion on the issue is expected to be reached before Easter.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Sefcovic said: “I am pleased to have met with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares to discuss EU-UK relations and, in particular, the ongoing negotiations on Gibraltar.

“Our European and Spanish teams are working hand in hand to move the talks forward.”

So far, the two blocs have held four rounds of negotiations.

The next round of talks is due to take place between 1 and 3 February in Brussels

Last year, the territory was granted another extension of the interim measures to ease the process of the UK’s departure from the EU.

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The measures, which were due to come to an end on December 31, 2021, were extended until February 28 2022 for vehicle circulation permits and until June 30 2022 for matters relating to social security.

Announcing the extension of the negotiations of the talks into 2022, Gibraltar’s government said: “There has been progress in the first four rounds and it is clear that all parties are determined to move forward in a positive and constructive manner to find solutions to the complex political and technical issues under discussion.

“Although the political framework was concluded on 31 December 2020, the actual negotiating process did not commence until October 2021, once the EU had completed its own internal procedures.

“The objective at this time is to conclude an agreement before Easter.”

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office previously described the talks as “constructive,” adding that “the U.K. maintained its position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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