Garcia says 2022 will be a year of ‘difficult challenges and tough decisions’
The coming year will be filled with “difficult challenges and tough decisions”, Dr Joseph Garcia, the Deputy Chief Minister, said in a New Year message in which he reflected on Gibraltar’s response to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Garcia, the Leader of the Liberal Party, said it was “essential” for Gibraltar to “get it right” in ongoing negotiations for a UK/EU treaty on the Rock’s future relations with the bloc.
But he said Gibraltar would not accept a deal that impinged in any way on its British sovereignty.
“Unlike with the pandemic, people are not going to lose their lives here, but the importance of a successful outcome to the treaty negotiations is not lost on anyone,” he said.
“The objective remains to carve out a future relationship for Gibraltar with the European Union which is in keeping with our well-known position on sovereignty.”
“We will walk away from a treaty rather than compromise our birthright.”
Dr Garcia said the response to Brexit and Covid-19 had placed onerous demands on the government.
And he stressed that while Gibraltar remained committed to negotiating a treaty based on the New Year’s Eve political framework, it was preparing too for the prospect of a ‘no negotiated outcome’.
But he warned that no matter how prepared Gibraltar was, leaving the EU without a treaty for the Rock would have adverse impacts.
“It is important to emphasise that there are some areas where, despite all the planning in the world, it will simply not be possible to provide any mitigation and where the position Gibraltar ends up in will simply reflect what it means to be a third country outside the EU,” he said.
“This may lead to greater bureaucracy, disruption and red-tape for citizens and businesses in our interactions with the EU as we adapt to a new and very different reality.”
“Indeed, the aim of a successful treaty negotiation is precisely to pull us away from that unattractive alternate universe.”
“In short, we need to understand that we are all in it together.”
“The huge effort that has been deployed to combat the pandemic and the resources and time devoted to leaving the EU and working out a future relationship with it, is for the benefit of every Gibraltarian and every single person who lives in Gibraltar.”
“These issues represent the bigger picture and the wider common good which we understandably may sometimes fail to appreciate when faced with important pressing problems of our own.”
“All this matters because in the final analysis we will sink or swim together.”