Brexit trade rows spill into Europe as Gibraltar demands new EU deal

Spain: James Cleverly is asked about Gibraltar entry ‘stunts’

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The news comes as the UK is also stuck in lengthy negotiations with the EU over the fate of Northern Ireland and the post-Brexit protocol. Gibraltar is now the subject of debate as parties meet in London to discuss the future relationship between the Rock and the European Union.

Discussions surrounding Gibraltar have been taking place since 2020 when the so-called “New Year’s Eve” agreement took place at the 11th hour between Britain and Spain.

Talks established the physical border as well as policing the flow of people, goods and services between Spain, the Schengen Area and the British territory.

Furthermore, a series of accords are in place over specific items including tobacco taxes, environmental issues, security and wider taxation rules.

Leading the talks, Fabian Picardo recently said he was feeling optimistic about the prospects of achieving an agreement with the EU which will secure the future of Gibraltar.

Talks must also consider the impact on the immediate area of Spain in proximity to the rock.

The Chief Minister hopes progress will be made before Monday (May 16) when he intends to return to the parliament to update officials on the progress.

Political tension between the EU and the UK is at an all-time high since Britain voted for, and subsequently left the European Union.

Already talks over the hated Northern Ireland Protocol have seen an open and frank exchange of words between the UK and the EU, with threats of agreements being torn up, and a trade war initiated.

The chief EU negotiator has accused Britain of “dragging its feet” over the talks, whilst Britain has hit back suggesting the EU “doesn’t care” about the people of Northern Ireland.

The situation between Gibraltar and Spain appears very different when compared to Northern Ireland.

The main bone of contention between Spain and Gibraltar is the movement of people – not the movement of goods.

In order to become an international legal treaty, the December 2020 agreement required all “complex legal issues” and the numerous bullet points making up the text to be ratified by the EU, too.

However, there are fears within Gibraltar the EU is willing to invest as much effort, finances and time into the island as it will with Northern Ireland.

Local sources in Gibraltar said: “The likelihood of the EU investing the necessary time and effort in reaching an agreement for a new treaty with the UK over Gibraltar (population approximately 34,000, compared to Northern Ireland’s 1.89 million and the EU’s 447 million) is unlikely to have been increased by the renewed tension around the Northern Ireland post-Brexit deal.”

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Similar to the situation with Northern Ireland, the EU appears to be threatening the status of Gibraltar.

As well as freezing privileged access that UK companies have to the EU single market, the bloc would also halt talks over Gibraltar’s status, a source told Bloomberg, asking not to be identified.

Residents of Gibraltar have been forced to take extra measures when visiting Spain from the rock.

From the start of May, all those still driving in Spain on British-issued licences and who have been resident in the country for more than six months have to stop driving.

The alternative is to take a driving test to get a Spanish licence.

Can the Northern Ireland Protocol situation be resolved by following the Gibraltar example? Should Gibraltar be given special status to remain in the EU? Will Northern Ireland break away from the UK? Let us know your thoughts by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!

People on holiday or short stays in Spain are unaffected and a UK licence is still valid.

It had been hoped, post-Brexit, that the two governments would agree to a simple swapping procedure, as both have with many other countries.

However, a hold-up in the lengthy negotiations (which are still ongoing) means a temporary bridging arrangement allowing UK or Gibraltar licences still to be used in Spain has now expired.

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