EU, Britain and Spain to hold more talks on post-Brexit status of Gibraltar

EU, Britain and Spain to hold more talks on post-Brexit status of Gibraltar

PTI | Madrid | Updated: 12-04-2024 14:26 IST | Created: 12-04-2024 14:26 IST
EU, Britain and Spain to hold more talks on post-Brexit status of Gibraltar
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  • Spain

British and Spanish foreign ministers will meet Friday with a top European Commission official for another round of negotiations over the status of the disputed territory of Gibraltar following Britain's exit from the European Union.

The two ministers will hold talks with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels. Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo will also attend.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said that while the meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron "may not be the final day,'' he was optimistic of an agreement "as soon as possible." "These are complex, technical issues, and then we will have to draft a whole set of documents, but we are already close to reaching an agreement on the general political lines," Albares told Spain's Onda Cero radio on Thursday.

All sides are eager to clinch a deal before European elections in June.

Britain left the European Union in 2020 with the relationship between Gibraltar and the bloc unresolved. Talks on a deal to ensure people and goods can keep flowing over the Gibraltar-Spain border have made halting progress during 18 rounds of negotiations, but UK officials have recently expressed optimism about reaching a deal.

In Britain's 2016 Brexit referendum, 96 per cent of voters in Gibraltar supported remaining in the EU. The tiny territory on Spain's southern tip depends greatly on access to the EU market for its 34,000 inhabitants.

Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713, but Spain has maintained its sovereignty claim ever since. Relations concerning the Rock, as it is popularly referred to in English, have had their ups and down over the centuries.

British Foreign Office Minister David Rutley said last month that "while negotiations have been technically and politically complex, significant progress has been made." A major sticking point has been who controls Gibraltar's airport, which under the proposed free-movement deal would be an external border of the EU. The UK and Gibraltar have resisted Spain's insistence that Spanish border officials be based at the airport, which is also home to a Royal Air Force base.

The British Foreign Office said in a statement Thursday that while it is "not expecting this meeting to reach a final agreement, getting senior political figures from the UK, European Commission, Spain and Gibraltar in one room is significant."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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