The Government says it welcomes that Gibraltar’s orderly departure from the European Union has been settled through a Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement. The Protocol refers to the four Memoranda of Understanding which have been published today.
This means that Gibraltar will form a part of the EU withdrawal process provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, together with the United Kingdom, if the UK Parliament approves it. As a result, Gibraltar will also be included in the transitional period whereby everything will remain largely as it is until, at least, the 31 December 2020.
The inclusion of Gibraltar in Withdrawal and in transition was the number one priority of the Government in this second phase of the Brexit process. This has been successfully achieved subject to the UK Parliament’s decision on the Withdrawal Agreement.
It is important to note that, at the same time, the Governments of Gibraltar and of the United Kingdom have agreed a Concordat which sets out the context of the documentation relating to our EU exit and clarifies how these should be interpreted.
In order to arrive at a full and accurate understanding of the documentation, how it is executed and how it will be implemented, the Concordat must be read first.
The Concordat makes it clear:
- that the term United Kingdom, as used in the Withdrawal Agreement, in the Protocol and in the Memoranda of Understanding includes Gibraltar;
- that all the documents have been arrived at with the consent of the Government of Gibraltar and following its participation in the negotiations;
- that the constitutional arrangements in place between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom will be fully respected; and
- that all rights and obligations in the Protocol and the Memoranda will be enjoyed and performed by the Gibraltar Government, Gibraltar Ministers and Gibraltar competent authorities.
￼In terms of the future relationship between Gibraltar and the European Union, the Concordat declares that this should take into account Gibraltar’s deep existing relationship with the EU to secure a future relationship for Gibraltar which appropriately reflects its particular geographic, socio-economic and constitutional characteristics and needs, including with regard to the mobility of persons and in the services economy.
The Concordat reaffirms the intention of the Gibraltar and United Kingdom Governments to ensure that the valued and historic links between us continue to grow, deepen and mature.
It is important to reiterate that these are arrangements for Gibraltar’s departure from the European Union where the United Kingdom is the Member State responsible for Gibraltar. The Protocol has been entered into between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The UK retains ultimate responsibility for our external relations, including the Protocol, and is also ultimately responsible for Gibraltar’s compliance with EU law.
The existing process therefore replicates the mechanics whereby Gibraltar joined the European Economic Community, as it was then, as a European territory for whose external relations a Member State is responsible.
“The set of agreements that have been concluded will ensure that Gibraltar is cushioned from the effects of EU departure by being able to benefit from transitional arrangements until the end of 2020. This means that nothing much should change and that there is time to discuss the detail of a future relationship in the months and years to come. The alternative would have been for Gibraltar to leave the European Union without a deal in March 2019 while the UK itself enjoyed the benefits of transition. This would not have been in the best interests of Gibraltar”, said the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia.
The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said: “These agreements are safe, sensible, and secure. They provide a way forward as we prepare to leave the EU. They are also time-limited to the end of the transition. In other words, at the end of 2020, the agreements will cease to have effect. I approved the Concordat with the Prime Minister when we met in London on 15 November. This provides additional guarantees and safeguards for Gibraltar and does not allow any room for interpretation. It is abundantly clear that Gibraltar participates through its own constitutional instruments and with our own competent authorities. Gibraltar will participate in the Withdrawal Agreement and will enjoy the benefit of transition as a result. Importantly, we have not given away anything in the MOUs. Sovereignty, jurisdiction and control are not affected in any way. What we have entered into are commitments to deal with issues we are as concerned about as our neighbours. We are giving effect to our own unilateral policy on tobacco pricing, as I have been saying and doing since I was elected to ensure that we avoid being attractive to those involved in the illicit trade in tobacco whilst protecting our legitimate trade. We are delivering cooperation between police and customs, which successive governments of Gibraltar have supported, but without in any way compromising our sovereignty or jurisdiction in any way. We are agreeing to cooperate on the environment in a manner that will allow us to request information in relation to matters we have long been concerned about and have wanted to ensure that air quality comes into the mix as well as matters related to cross boundary effect of reclamations, given our particular concerns about the effects of the Algeciras reclamations. And on Citizens‘ Rights we have agreed reciprocal arrangements to monitor in our areas the rights and obligations set out in the main Withdrawal Agreement. For that reason, if the UK Parliament approve the Withdrawal Agreement, then the parts of it which relate to Gibraltar which we have negotiated for Gibraltar, work for Gibraltar. I hope we will soon also be to publish the treaty on taxation which we are finalising.”