By Tony Noble • 27 December 2019 • 10:41
Gexit : Spain, The Uk and Gibraltar to meet in January.
Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union means that Spain is embarking on a special task: negotiating Gibraltar’s own exit from the European club. There will be much banging on the tables, they will shout at each other and probably insult each other, one thing is for sure, Gexit is here! Everything from the queues in and out of the border to Tax, Drugs, tobacco, and residency will have to agreed and finalised, not an easy job!
In mid-January 2020, at a conference centre in Madrid, the Spanish government and the United Kingdom together with representatives from Gibraltar will begin talks on the British Overseas Territory, a disputed piece of land covering 6.7 square kilometers that sits at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula. Ceded to Great Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, it has been an enduring source of political friction with Spain.
This creates a situation that affects Spain uniquely: Gibraltar’s departure will have an impact on a range of issues, including the status of approximately 10,000 Spaniards who work in Gibraltar as cross-border workers.
As for the post-Brexit scenario, involving Europe’s relationship with the territory – where Spain holds a veto right – Madrid is working on a series of “red lines” with the ultimate goal of aligning the conditions on both sides of the border separating Gibraltar from La Línea de la Concepción and the wider Campo de Gibraltar, in Cádiz province, an area with high unemployment rates.
Technical delegations from both countries will meet in Madrid on January 14 and 15 to set a timetable and an agenda for the meetings. The goal is to deal with any tension or misunderstanding that might arise during Britain’s departure and during the transition period extending to December 31, 2020.
The committees mirror the four memorandums of understanding that Madrid and London signed in November 2018 to tackle issues of concern such as the rights of cross-border workers, the fight against smuggling, environmental protection, and cooperation on law enforcement and border control.
Those topics are being bundled into three committees that will attempt, among other things, to disincentive tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar, which is the biggest entry point for illegal tobacco products into Spain. Madrid is also targeting Gibraltar’s practice of expanding its territory through landfill in disputed waters. The committees will additionally attempt to define clear tax residency rules.
The British delegation will include representation from the government of Gibraltar, while the Spanish one brings on board regional and local officials. A fourth committee presided by the European Commission will address the status of around 15,000 EU citizens who work in Gibraltar, most of whom are Spanish.
MARCO AGUIRIANO, SPANISH SECRETARY OF STATE TO THE EU:
“We are almost done defining the priorities and red lines”
Well let’s just wait and see…
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Tony Noble is a licensed Lay Minister in the Anglican chaplaincy of Costa Almeria and Costa Calida. Telephone - 711 043 859 - [email protected]
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