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Commission’s draft mandate for treaty talks is ‘unacceptable’, GSD says

Johnny Bugeja

The European Commission’s draft mandate for negotiations on a treaty for the Rock’s future relations with the bloc would hand Spain a legal and economic role in Gibraltar and is “unacceptable”, the GSD said on Thursday.

In a statement, the GSD said the mandate goes “well beyond certain unsatisfactory aspects” of the framework agreement announced on New Year’s Eve, which the party had already highlighted at the time.

“Any deal designed along the basis of this mandate would deliver major political and economic competences and controls to Spain,” the party said.

“It would undermine our rights as a people as well as our sustainability and ability to run our affairs.”

“It would in effect give Spain a legal and economic role in our affairs.”

The mandate has already been firmly rejected by both the UK and Gibraltar governments, which said earlier this week it could not form the basis for treaty talks.

In sharing that view, the GSD said the measures envisaged by the Commission in the mandate would amount to practical concessions on sovereignty, jurisdiction and control.

It said the mandate would see Spanish border guards and customs officers in Gibraltar at the airport, port and with the right to patrol Gibraltar waters.

It would also give Spain competences on residence in Gibraltar as well as immigration, and would hand economic controls to Spain on a number of fronts forcing Gibraltar to align itself with Spanish taxes as well as controlling prices in Gibraltar, imposing VAT, require membership of a non-bespoke Customs Union and control economic activity and inward investment.

“There is no way a deal can be done on that basis as Spain could control what and who comes in and out and what happens politically or economically,” said Keith Azopardi, the Leader of the Opposition.

“This would be as good as handing the keys of Gibraltar to Spain and leaving us to their mercy.”

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