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Albares still hopes for UK/EU treaty on Gib ‘as soon as possible’

Archive image of Jose Manuel Albares, Spain's Minister for Foreign Affairs. Photo by Lukasz Kobus/EC-Aduiovisual Service

Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares, said on Tuesday he still hoped a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations with the bloc would be agreed “as soon as possible”, even while acknowledging there were no formal negotiating rounds scheduled against the backdrop of Spain’s July 23 general election.

Mr Albares was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Cordoba and was asked about the situation with the Gibraltar talks.

As he has done on numerous occasions in the recent months, he said the EU and Spain had presented “a global agreement” last December that covered all areas necessary to establish an area of shared prosperity between the Rock and the neighbouring Campo de Gibraltar.

“Since then, we have been waiting for the UK to say whether or not it is in favour of this agreement,” he said.

As he has done in the past, Mr Albares nonetheless highlighted the UK’s “constructive spirit” in the negotiation.

After 13 formal rounds of talks and countless meetings in between, negotiators have yet to reach agreement on a deal that seeks to guarantee post-Brexit border fluidity and is seen by many as vital to the economic prosperity of Gibraltar and neighbouring Campo cities, particularly La Linea.

But with the country’s parties now on an election footing, any significant progress ahead of the July 23 is unlikely.

The treaty under negotiation is between the UK and the EU, but Brussels has said it will not agree anything without the agreement of Spain, which has played a key role in the talks.

The fear here is that a change of government in Spain could further complicate a negotiation that has been fraught with difficulty from the outset, particularly if a future PP government needs to lean on Vox to obtain a majority in the Spanish parliament.

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