pm urged to 'turn his mind to gibraltar' after new deal with eu
By Daniel Toft, Communications Assistant
Following the UK Government agreeing the ‘Windsor Framework’ with the European Union to replace the troublesome Northern Ireland Protocol, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been urged to now “turn his mind” to Gibraltar. As the Prime Minister was taking questions on the new agreement, veteran Conservative Member of Parliament and Chair of the Justice Select Committee Sir Bob Neill MP rose to his feet to encourage the Prime Minister to deliver an agreement with the EU that would benefit Gibraltar.
He said: “If we can resolve the issues in relation to Northern Ireland, can we now swiftly move, with the Foreign Secretary’s support, to resolve the few remaining issues to the territory of Gibraltar, which requires a few adjustments and good sense to get itself into a better position in our new relationships going forward?”
Sir Bob Neill MP
The Prime Minister then responded: “Can I thank my Honourable Friend for his warm words of support and assure him that the Foreign Secretary in particular, is intensely engaged with his counterparts in Spain to try and find resolution on the issues that are outstanding”
As the only Overseas Territory that is physically connected to mainland Europe, Gibraltar naturally has a unique relationship with the EU and its member states that other Overseas Territories do not. However, Article 774 of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, agreed between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve of 2020, makes clear that the agreement does not apply to Gibraltar. However, on 31st December 2020, the UK and Spain reached an agreement-in-principle, just hours before the transition period deadline. Over two years on and numerous extensions to the transition period though, the negotiating teams still have been unable to translate the agreement into a workable treaty that both sides can agree to, with the primary obstacle at present being passport control.
The 1.2km border between Gibraltar and Spain is crossed by approximately 15,000 people per day, with 11,000 of that number being Spanish according to data provided by the Cross Frontier Group. Despite this, the Spanish Government has made clear that negotiations cannot go on indefinitely, and are making arrangements for a situation without agreement. The UK Government remains in intensive talks with the Spanish Government and the European Commission.