Before announcement of Queen’s death, treaty news from London and Seville
Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that the negotiations for a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar’s future relations with the bloc were “progressing well and correctly”, adding that the aim was to achieve a “mutually beneficial” agreement.
Mr Albares was speaking in Seville before news of the Queen’s death, and as a top-level delegation from Gibraltar was engaged in a series of meetings in London ahead the next formal two-day round of negotiations starting on September 20.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia met with the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, and with Leo Docherty, the new Minister for Europe.
The meeting served to brief Mr Docherty, who was appointed on Wednesday night, to be updated directly by the Gibraltar delegation on the latest progress in the talks and on other current issues relating to Gibraltar.
Mr Cleverly, who was Minister for Europe before becoming Foreign Secretary earlier this week, has been involved in the negotiations and has close knowledge of the issues at play.
“Their appointment will further reinforce our excellent working relationship,” Mr Picardo said.
“I am looking forward to the work we will do together in coming months and to delivering a safe and positive Treaty between the UK and the EU on our future relationship with the EU.”
Mr Docherty had been scheduled to travel to Gibraltar on Friday for National Day but the visit has now been cancelled.
After the meeting, Mr Picardo and the Gibraltar delegation, which included Attorney General Michael Llamas, cut short their visit and returned to Gibraltar, where they were due to arrive late on Thursday night.
In Seville on Thursday, during a press conference with his Portuguese counterpart, Joao Gomes Crevinho, Mr Albares also referred to the OS 35 incident and the cooperation between Gibraltarian and Spanish maritime authorities to mitigate the environmental impact after the ship was grounded following a collision in the Bay of Gibraltar.
Mr Albares said the incident and the coordinated response demonstrated “that we cannot live with our backs to each other”.
The Spanish Foreign Minister also expressed concern and solidarity with British citizens over the Queen’s health as the world watched developments in Balmoral in the hours before the announcement.
CROSS FRONTIER GROUP
In another development on Thursday, the Cross Frontier Group reiterated its concern about “exasperating delays” in the negotiations.
The group acknowledged the complexity of the negotiation but said it was “inexcusable” that an agreement had not yet been reached, adding this had led to uncertainty for thousands of workers and companies in the area.
“A treaty that clarifies the future socioeconomic relations, that provides reassurance to citizens and the economy and that allows the often-mentioned area of shared prosperity to become a reality,” the Group said.
The Cross Frontier Group also announced the appointment of its new president for the coming year, George Dyke, a representative of the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, and its new vice president, Angel Serrano from Spanish union UGT. The secretariat will continue to be held by Manuel Triano, from Spanish union CCOO.
“The Cross Frontier Group’s work during the coming months will be to continue with our line of conveying these concerns to the political and institutional leaders of Spain, Gibraltar and the European Union,” the group said.
The members of the Cross Frontier Group also expressed concern regarding the environmental impact caused by the collision of the ship OS 35.
“On this matter, the group has positively valued the cooperation between the different authorities and has expressed its desire for further commitment to continued improvements to protocols in the event of this type of accident in the future, in waters characterised by the significant volume of maritime traffic,” it added.