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Brexit: Picardo says Gibraltar will ‘thrive’ regardless
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The British Overseas Territory is not covered by the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union that was agreed at the end of last year. Separate negotiations with the Brussels bloc are set to take place to agree a new treaty. Spain, Britain and Gibraltar had all be hopeful negotiations for the cooperation treaty would have been concluded by the end of last month.
But progress was delayed as the European Commission was yet to finish seeking a mandate from the European Council.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo lavished praise on Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha González Laya over the dialogue and negotiating spirit she has shown during the latest round of talks.
Both sides are attempting to thrash out an agreement on “collaboration and cooperation”.
Mr Picardo was speaking at an event organised by Club Siglo XXI in the Spanish capital of Madrid, ensuring in the talks over the future post-Brexit relationship.
Spanish foreign minister González Laya had told Congress she would “fight tooth and nail” to defend the Spanish sovereignty over Gibraltar.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Mr Picardo repeated that pledge and vowed to do everything in its power to defend its own interests, adding: “We can all fight tooth and nail.”
He also said, “dialogue is essential for coexistence and must be born of mutual respect.”
The aim is to strike agreements that will allow “irritating” issues to be resolved and achieve an understanding that facilitates collaboration, cooperation and prosperity on both sides of the border.
Mr Picardo said: “The success of my people exists in parallel to the success of the entire area; they are mutually inclusive, not mutually exclusive.”
Last week, the Rock’s Chief Minister had claimed a landmark Brexit treaty between the UK and Gibraltar could be imminent after delays caused by the European Union.
Speaking on the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum from June 2016, Mr Picardo revealed there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” for securing an agreement with Brussels.
He said: “We are not there yet, but we can see light at the end of the Brexit tunnel now. We will be fully out of the tunnel soon.”
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The Chief Minister also emphasised the importance of the historic referendum vote five years ago, where residents of the Rock voted overwhelmingly by 96 percent to just four percent in favour of remaining in the EU.
He continued: “The stresses and strains of the past five years have been many and they are not yet over.
“But we are in good shape as we look to start the negotiation of the potential UK treaty with the EU.
“It is, therefore, testament to this hard work that we are now very close to securing a treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union based on our New Year’s Eve Agreement with Spain.”
A framework agreement was agreed between Britain and Spain on New Year’s Eve 2020 to outline Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU ahead of a treaty being agreed.
The full treaty will ultimately look at issues such border crossings and trade, with Mr Picardo hopeful it will secure free movement for people and goods crossing between Spain and Gibraltar.
Additional reporting from Maria Ortega.
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