January 19, 2021

Borrell bets on "building bridges" with Gibraltar "towards shared sovereignty", but not now

Borrell bets on "building bridges" with Gibraltar "towards shared sovereignty", but not now



The Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, Josep Borrell, said on Wednesday that "if the United Kingdom leaves the EU, Gibraltar will approach Spain because the law of gravity exists" and, in that context, He has been a supporter of "building bridges to shared sovereignty" but "in his time", not now.

Borrell has expressed himself before the Mixed Congress-Senate Commission for the EU and in response to the deputy of the PP Concepción de Santa Ana, who has asked him not to miss the opportunity of Brexit for the claim of sovereignty. The minister has replied that his position on this issue is the same as that of his predecessor, the 'popular' Alfonso Dastis.

In the face of the agreement for Brexit, he has assured parliamentarians that the agreement with the United Kingdom for the transitory period to apply to Gibraltar is "almost resolved" thanks, he said, to the "untiring effort" of officials who have left " the skin in endless days ".

On this point, it has confirmed that the agreements that are being finalized do not include anything related to the possibility of a joint use of the airport, as proposed by Dastis. "We remain in the status quo, we leave things as they are, we have 20 months ahead to do it," he said, pointing out that this issue can be negotiated during the transitional period.

In his explanation to the deputies, he has distinguished between the protocol on Gibraltar that accompanies the British exit agreement, which is what is "practically closed", and the memoranda "that are not part of the treaty" and that is where matters are addressed specific issues such as the environment or tobacco smuggling. Those memoranda, he said, are not part of the exit treaty, so the global agreement can be signed without them.

What is part of the Treaty is the protocol and on that, he said, the Spanish negotiators "have instructions not to let him open, over his body", so that "if tomorrow we have to sign the Brexit agreement, that's not it's a problem".

FIVE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

As for the memoranda on specific issues, he said that "there may or may not be" and that there is practically an agreement on four of the five that are being negotiated. "As far as we do not agree, we will leave it for the transitory period, because the Brexit does not need the memos," he added.

The memoranda are about environment, cooperation in security, citizens' rights, tobacco and Fiscal Treaty, but the minister has not given clues as to which is the most pending.

The minister recalled that in the current negotiations on Gibraltar is not talking about sovereignty, "neither actively claiming or renouncing it", but is seeking a "balanced and closer relationship" between Gibraltar and Spain for the benefit of the inhabitants of the region and especially of the workers of Campo de Gibraltar. "We do not want to close any gate but we do not put in writing things contrary to the Treaty of the Union," he said.

On the other hand, Borrell has been pessimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, because what seems to be discussed is whether "there can be a border without a border". In his opinion, talking about technological solutions is "science fiction". Of course, has indicated that Spain has proposed a mechanism similar to what is between the Canary Islands and the Iberian Peninsula, a kind of "little intrusive customs regime."

Although the agreement for the Brexit is not expected to be closed at the European Council that begins on Wednesday, the minister wanted to subtract drama, convinced that the important thing is that there is time for the agreement to be ratified, that is, it would be enough to agreement "before the nougat".

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