Thursday, May 30, 2024

Brussels seeks this Friday to unravel the negotiation on Gibraltar with Albares, Cameron and Picardo



This Friday, Brussels hosts a meeting between the vice president of the Commission in charge of relations with the United Kingdom, Maros Sefcovic; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, and his British counterpart, David Cameron, which will also be attended by the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, and with which the aim is to unravel the negotiation of the agreement on the Rock. “We are entering a sensitive phase of the negotiations and tomorrow’s meeting will help us make progress on all the important issues,” community sources tell Europa Press, while the Spanish and British Governments have lowered the expectations for the negotiations. can announce the agreement this Friday. The idea, as explained this Wednesday by Sefcovic himself, who negotiates on behalf of the Twenty-seven the agreement that will regulate Gibraltar’s relationship with the EU after Brexit, is to take stock after the 18 rounds that have been held to date since Negotiations began in October 2021, with no progress reported since then. “We are in a phase in which we believe that we must take political stock of the process,” said the socialist, emphasizing that the conversations at a technical level are “in full swing.” “As we have had enough negotiations at the technical level, I think we must now move forward with an evaluation of the progress at the political level,” he insisted, celebrating the “constructive atmosphere” of the talks. Albares also acknowledged this Thursday that in recent weeks there have been “important rapprochements of our positions with the United Kingdom” in meetings at a technical level and has considered that therefore “the situation is beginning to be ripe” for the meeting. For its part, a spokesperson for the British Government explained to Europa Press that Cameron plans to address “the most complex issues” of the negotiation with his European interlocutors, although neither London nor Brussels have wanted to publicly detail at any time what the main obstacles are being. in the negotiation. TWO AND A HALF YEARS OF UNFRUCTUAL NEGOTIATION Brussels negotiates with London on the basis of the so-called New Year’s Eve Agreement sealed between the Spanish and British Governments on December 31, 2020. Said memorandum provides for the removal of the Fence and the de facto entry of Gibraltar into Schengen, for which border controls will have to be moved to the port and airport. The United Kingdom rejects that Spanish agents carry out these controls, hence a proposal is on the table so that during a transitional period of four years this task falls to the European Border Agency (Frontex). The ultimate objective, as both London and Madrid have been responsible for defending, is to establish an area of ​​shared prosperity in the Rock and Campo de Gibraltar. Both governments have also made it clear at all times that the agreement does not in any way affect their respective claims to sovereignty over the Rock. The meeting of the main actors in this negotiation, Sefcovic and Cameron, with the added presence of Albares and Picardo as part of the European and British delegations respectively, has generated some expectation that an agreement may be close. THERE WILL BE NO AGREEMENT THIS FRIDAY However, Albares has lowered expectations. Although he has said that the agreement is “closer”, he has made it clear that “perhaps tomorrow will not be the final day, because they are complex issues” and we will have to proceed now with the drafting, “but we are already beginning to get close to being able to have an agreement on the general lines”. The British Government spokesperson also made it clear to Europa Press on Tuesday that the agreement “is not imminent” but rather that the objective of the meeting is to provide “a platform to advance even further.” For his part, Picardo has maintained that “it is an important opportunity to progress towards the conclusion of a treaty”, also implying that tomorrow there will be no agreement. “We approach this meeting constructively and with the desire to move forward on the issues, to the extent that we can do so safely and without compromising any aspect of our sacrosanct sovereignty, jurisdiction and control,” he added in a statement. The meeting will take place just a week after another vice president of the Commission, the conservative Margaritis Schinas, questioned the options of reaching an agreement before the European elections in June, which generated unrest in the Government and forced the Executive community to publish a statement with Albares to defend that the talks are progressing as planned. Although in all this time neither of the parties has wanted to talk about a deadline for the agreement, the truth is that the calendar for the coming months seems to go against the negotiation. If it is not closed in the coming weeks, the holding of the European elections from June 6 to 9 would leave the issue pending for the next European Commission, which will take office in November. In addition, the United Kingdom must hold general elections before the end of January 2025, although there has been speculation that the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, will bring forward the appointment before the polls by a few months. At the moment, the polls are against the conservatives and give a wide advantage to the Labor Party, although on a central issue such as Gibraltar there are no differences between the two major parties.

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