‘Clock still ticking’ on Gib agreement as UK/EU seal post-Brexit deal
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has welcomed news of a post-Brexit UK/EU deal but said “the clock is still ticking” on negotiations for an agreement for Gibraltar’s future relations with the bloc.
The deal between the UK and the EU does not cover Gibraltar, but Mr Picardo expressed confidence that an agreement could be reached to protect the Rock’s interests – and those of the neighbouring region in Spain – after December 31.
“I congratulate the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, on this historic achievement,” Mr Picardo said.
“This is the largest trade deal in history and is a huge relief given the potential difficulties that a no-deal Brexit might have created for the United Kingdom and the European Union.”
“A strong United Kingdom is better able to support Gibraltar.”
“This deal does not cover Gibraltar. For us, and for the people of the Campo de Gibraltar around us, the clock is still ticking.”
“We continue to work, hand in glove with the United Kingdom, to finalise negotiation with Spain of agreement for a proposed treaty between the EU and the UK in relation to Gibraltar.”
“I am optimistic that we will be able to finalise that agreement.”
After the annoucement of the deal, the UK Government issued a statement on the negotiations about Gibraltar.
"The UK, side by side with the Government of Gibraltar, has held constructive discussions with Spain regarding future relationship issues relating to Gibraltar," the Foreign, Commonwealth and Dvelopment Office said.
"All sides acknowledged the challenging nature of this process at the outset of talks. Although an agreement has not yet been reached on Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU, we will continue our discussions with Spain to safeguard Gibraltar’s interests, and those of the surrounding region."
"In addition, we are also working closely with the Government of Gibraltar, in discussion with Spain and the EU, to mitigate the effects of the end of the Transition Period on Gibraltar."
"We are totally committed to protecting Gibraltar’s interests. That includes ensuring border fluidity, which is clearly in the best interests of the communities that live on both sides."
The Spanish Government also reacted to the news on Christmas Eve.
Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Spain’s Foreign Minister, welcomed the UK/EU deal but added in a Tweet: “There is agreement between Spain and UK relating to Gibraltar. We’re still talking.”
#Brexit ¡buenas noticias! han concluido las negociaciones entre la UE y el Reino Unido. Gracias @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier 🙏 ahora lo estudiaremos y nos pronunciaremos en los próximos días.
No hay acuerdo entre la 🇪🇸 y 🇬🇧 en lo relativo a #Gibraltar. Seguimos conversando
— Arancha González (@AranchaGlezLaya) December 24, 2020
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez echoed that position and said on Twitter: "Spain and the UK are still talking to reach an agreement on Gibraltar."
Bienvenido el principio de acuerdo entre la UE y Reino Unido. Enhorabuena a @MichelBarnier, @vonderleyen y sus equipos. Los Estados Miembros lo examinaremos y @EUCouncil se pronunciará en los próximos días.
España y RU seguimos dialogando para lograr un acuerdo sobre Gibraltar.
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) December 24, 2020
The reactions on Gibraltar came after a post-Brexit trade deal was agreed by negotiators from the UK and the European Union after months of talks and frantic last-minute wrangling.
The deal was secured on Christmas Eve, a week before current trading arrangements expire.
Boris Johnson said a deal reached with the European Union will help protect jobs and provide certainty to businesses.
The Prime Minister said the agreement resolves the European question which has “bedevilled” British politics for generations.
In a Downing Street press conference Mr Johnson said the UK had managed to “take back control” as promised in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The Prime Minister told a No 10 press conference: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered."
“From January 1 we are outside the customs union and outside the single market."
“British laws will be made solely by the British Parliament interpreted by British judges sitting in UK courts and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end.”
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “We have finally found an agreement.
“It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it.
“It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”
She said the deal meant “EU rules and standards will be respected” with “effective tools to react” if the UK side tries to undercut Brussels to seek a competitive advantage.
There will be a five-and-a-half year transition period for the fishing industry, she indicated.
And co-operation will continue on issues including climate change, energy, security and transport.
Mrs von der Leyen said she felt “quiet satisfaction” and “relief” that a deal had been concluded.
“It is time to leave Brexit behind, our future is made in Europe,” she added.