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Albares remains positive of Gib deal, says Royal visit ‘not an obstacle’ for talks

Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares, has again expressed optimism that a UK/EU deal for Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations with the bloc is close, adding that the Royal visit to Gibraltar this week “is not an obstacle as such” despite Spain’s unease about the timing.

With negotiators due to meet again soon for the ninth formal round of negotiations, Mr Albares said legal drafting was already possible in many areas where agreement had been reached.

“I would have liked for these negotiations to have concluded but, on the one hand, the Covid-19 pandemic meant the opportunity for meetings slowed down while, on the other, everything touched by Brexit is complex and long...,” he said in an interview with 7TV.

“They’re progressing at good pace.”

“There’s sufficient agreement in many areas to allow drafting [of the legal text] to begin.”

“We’re moving towards a new model, one of shared prosperity for the Campo de Gibraltar.”

“And I hope that very soon we’ll be able to reach agreement.”

“As far as Spain is concerned, we have the best will to reach this agreement, while maintaining, of course, our sovereignty claim.”

Asked what he meant by shared prosperity, Mr Albares said “balanced growth” for all the municipalities in the Campo adding that, for Spain, the negotiation had as its priority the interests of the Campo’s 270,000 inhabitants.

“It’s them, their needs and aspirations, that guide me,” he added.

Mr Albares referred to the negotiators’ “complete willingness” to reach a “satisfactory” agreement.

“An agreement that, while guaranteeing Spain’s position on sovereignty, is mutually beneficial for the Campo de Gibraltar,” he added.

“The sovereignty claim is not going to be touched, but here what we’re looking for and guides us… is achieving that area of shared prosperity.”

“It’s about trying to ensure Brexit, which is a decision that was not taken by Spanish citizens but rather by the British, does not impact on the daily life of these Spaniards.”

Mr Albares said he would like to reach an agreement “as soon as possible” but would not be drawn on any timeline.

The Spanish minister was asked too whether the Royal visit this week could prove an obstacle in the negotiations.

“It’s not an obstacle as such, but we have made a protest and it’s my view that at this time, this is not the relationship model that we’re looking for,” he said.

“It doesn’t add to that model.”

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