In a lunchtime address to a Brussels think tank, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia has declared that it would be manifestly unfair to use Gibraltar as a whipping boy who was made to suffer the consequences of Europe‘s wider disagreements with the United Kingdom.
Nobody has anything to gain by excluding Gibraltar from the transition or the future relationship agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, Dr Garcia has further claimed.
The subject of the speech was “Gibraltar: The other Brexit land frontier”.
Dr Garcia explained that there were three land borders with the EU that the UK would continue to be ultimately responsible for. These were the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the borders between the Republic of Cyprus and the UK Sovereign Bases, and the border between Gibraltar and Spain.
The Deputy Chief Minister stressed the importance of continued cross-border fluidity once Gibraltar was outside the European Union. This was important to the people who lived on either side of the border, to residents, to tourists and also to frontier workers. He explained that there were over 13,000 people who lived in Spain and who worked in Gibraltar. This figure included nationals of all the Member States of the European Union.
He said that Gibraltar is a success story of what the EU is all about and a microcosm of what Europe should be, adding that it would be a tragedy if this were lost going forward.
He reminded the audience, which included many journalists and officials, that 96% of Gibraltar had voted to remain in the European Union in June 2016 but added that many now felt disenchanted hard done by following the publication last year of the Council’s negotiating guidelines.
The way forward could not be about negative vetos and obstruction, it had to be about positive cooperation and safeguarding the reality that exists, which is the foundation for even greater shared prosperity in the future.
The Deputy Chief Minister’s address was followed by a lively question and answer session with those present and then by concluding remarks from Sir Graham Watson.