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Crammed Brussels agenda ‘hugely beneficial’

The delegation from the Gibraltar Government that travelled to Brussels this week held 22 meetings in 48 hours of intense activity.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia flew to Brussels for a two-day pit stop at the EU Parliament and Commission.

The ministers alongside EU Counsel for the Government of Gibraltar Graham Watson and Attorney General Michael Llamas, QC, lobbied for the Rock over two days.

They held meetings with members of the Transport Committee on civil aviation issues, MEPs representing Gibraltar in both sides of the EU referendum, and the British Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it is fair to say that our meetings in Brussels this week have been hugely beneficial for Gibraltar,” Mr Picardo said.

“Joseph and I have held twenty two meetings in two days which has been exhausting but exactly what the taxpayer expects from us. Indeed, many times we had to split up and attend different meetings in different buildings given the intense schedule that had been prepared for us by Gibraltar House in Brussels.”

Yesterday marked the first day of political ‘purdah’, which is the official period where government and civil servants can no longer provide information relating to the referendum that could sway voters. Purdah has taken place in the final four weeks prior to the EU referendum.

"Now that the official 'purdah' period commences, and we are in the final run up to the vote, it is important that whatever side any individual supports everyone uses the last few days left to register to vote or for one of the mechanisms to vote in absentia if necessary,” he said.

Mr Picardo has apologised to all those who he has not had to opportunity to talk to about the referendum prior to this date.

"I also want to take this opportunity to apologise to people who want or need to see me as the work required in respect of the Referendum has been, and will no doubt until the 23rd continue to be, unprecedented in my professional and political experience and has not allowed me to see the people I want and need to see,” Mr Picardo said.

“Some people will have been disappointed because matters which are personal are hugely important and have not had the attention they would usually have had from me, in particular when they affect issues related to housing or employment where Ministers have been unable to assist beforehand and where my discretion is required to unblock a situation.”

“I understand that and will be ensuring that long overdue meetings are fixed as soon as possible after this period of unprecedented international and national engagements is over. I of course have to thank my office and all my ministers for their support in this period which has as usual never been found wanting and which has enabled me to do the work I have to do for Gibraltar at this important moment in our history.”