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Brexit’s ‘nasty shock’ is a catalyst for cross-border dialogue, Cross Frontier Group says

The Spanish flag flies at the Gibraltar-Spain border, in front of the Rock in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, in La Linea de la Concepcion, southern Spain, November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Brexit has delivered “a nasty shock” that should encourage communities in Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar to “redouble our efforts” to foster cross-border dialogue and cooperation, the Cross frontier Group said.

The group made the statement is it marked its fifth anniversary since its inception.

The Cross Frontier Group brings together labour and business interests and was created at a time when Spanish border controls were making life a misery for thousands of commuters who crossed daily between Gibraltar and Spain.

“Since its early days the Group, in close debate, has contrived to overcome the various stages of its development,” the group said in a statement.

“We still remember our difficult beginnings when we decided to join forces to publicly condemn the situation at the frontier and the serious harm and detriment suffered by workers, businesses and citizens alike.”

“Their welfare became our cause; their peace of mind our hope.”

Over the years, the group’s members have campaigned locally, in Spain and further afield.

They have lobbied politicians and officials in the European Parliament, Westminster and the regional parliament in Andalucia, meeting British, Spanish, European and Gibraltarian parliamentary representatives.

“In all conversations with local agents and institutions we have endeavoured to keep to the spirit of our founding declaration and true purpose,” the group said.

“This Group looks to the future and is established with the aim of defending the common interests of all citizens on both sides of the frontier in the firm belief that it is through dialogue and cooperation that the mutual social and economic benefit of both societies can be achieved.”

“But with Brexit an unforeseen circumstance of transcendental, historical importance has been placed in our path,” the group said.

“The United Kingdom’s decision to set in motion the provisions of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and thereby exit the European Union has created real uncertainty in the area.”

“It has been a nasty shock, especially given Gibraltar’s overwhelming support for the European project at the referendum.”

“But the Brexit impasse must surely serve to sharpen our wits and redouble our efforts.”

“For if, to date, we have been considered reliable and truthful interlocutors in the dialogue between citizens and their institutions, in the current, delicate circumstances our role becomes even more important.”

It was with the interests of future generations at heart that the Cross Frontier Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Gibraltar to foster employment and cooperation in the area.

The group has also worked hard to establish a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation as an EU institutional channel for future cooperation between Gibraltar and the Campo.

This project is now being studied by the legal team of the Spanish State.

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