By John Ensor •
Updated: 29 Nov 2023 • 10:31
Cameron and Albares yesterday.
Is the UK prepared to face EU law in Gibraltar? This question looms large as Jose Manuel Albares, Spain’s Foreign Minister, sends a stark warning to Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, David Cameron.
Albares emphasised the urgency of reaching a Gibraltar agreement before the European election campaign kicks off in June 2024. If the issues remain unresolved, the EU’s stringent external border rules will be enforced on Gibraltar, writes El Español.
The discussions took place on Tuesday, November 29, during the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels, signifying a pivotal moment in Gibraltar’s post-Brexit saga.
Albares posted on Twitter/X: ‘First meeting with my new counterpart from the United Kingdom, @David_Cameron. We have addressed the shared prosperity agreement for Campo de Gibraltar-Gibraltar. Also the crisis in Gaza, and the important Spanish and British colonies in our two countries.’
Central to the negotiations is the utilisation of Gibraltar’s airport, a topic that has remained unresolved. Defining the exact location of the new border checks at Gibraltar’s port and airport, and the division of responsibilities between the Spanish Guardia Civil and Frontex, the European border agency, are also key issues.
Negotiation failure would result in extensive, meticulous border checks, leading to significant delays. This includes passport scanning and possible in-depth questioning by guards, a standard practice at Schengen area’s external borders.
David Cameron, who stepped down as prime minister following the 2016 Brexit referendum, now faces the task of resolving Gibraltar’s status, a significant Brexit-related issue. The Irish-Northern Irish border problem, initially perceived as more complex, was settled earlier this year with the Windsor agreement.
Albares and Cameron’s first face-to-face meeting, following a phone conversation, showed Cameron’s readiness for dialogue. Reportedly, Albares noted the absence of tension or disputes but withheld details on any progress.
Albares indicates that a deal is within reach but maintains the stance that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.’ Spain has extended a ‘balanced and generous’ offer to the UK, proposing a shared prosperity zone between Gibraltar and Campo de Gibraltar. According to Albares, the decision now rests with the UK.
On New Year’s Eve 2020, Spain and the UK agreed to eliminate the Gibraltar border post-Brexit, aiming to ease transit for over 10,000 daily Spanish workers. The agreement, which placed border controls at Gibraltar’s port and airport under Frontex for four years, sidestepped sovereignty disputes.
This initial agreement awaits transformation into an EU-UK treaty, a process hindered by protracted negotiations and political changes in Spain. Besides this treaty, Spain and the UK are discussing a bilateral accord covering the airport, military base, and potential mobility pact.
Following their meeting, Albares and Cameron directed their teams to resume technical discussions. With the end of the Von der Leyen Commission’s term and the upcoming European elections in 2024, a definitive timeline for these negotiations is now apparent.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
Another snake in the grass self fulfilling politician, thought this one was off the gravy train now back on.
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