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Gibraltar briefs EU Committee of the Regions on border concerns

The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, has told EU officials that an agreement on mobility between Gibraltar and Spain is important to best protect citizens and businesses from the impact of Gibraltar leaving the European Union.

Dr Garcia made the statement while addressing a meeting of the EU Committee of the Regions – United Kingdom Contact Group on Monday afternoon.

The virtual meeting was an exchange of views with the committee on the part of different local and regional entities from the UK side of the negotiations.

This is the first time that Gibraltar has been invited to participate, along with members of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and local Government associations from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Deputy Chief Minister explained that Gibraltar was engaged in “constructive discussions” with the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Spain on the future relationship with the European Union, No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

He explained that, from a regional perspective, there was already good cooperation between Gibraltar and the surrounding area as well as a close economic relationship.

Dr Garcia explained that there were over 14,000 people who lived in Spain and who worked in Gibraltar and that this number comprised all the different nationalities of the EU, 9000 of whom were Spanish nationals.

This was “a shining example of what the EU should be about,” he told the committee.

Dr Garcia said fluid cross-border mobility was important to residents of Gibraltar and the surrounding area, to those coming to work here, and to millions of tourists who visited every year.

He highlighted too the “considerable amount of prosperity” generated in Spain as a result of the positive economic influence of Gibraltar.

This included the expenditure of some 80 million euros by Gibraltar residents in Spain and the importation of some 1.5 billion euros a year in goods and materials from Spain, which in turn had a positive economic spin-off in that country.

He told the committee that the shared objective of all sides was to increase that prosperity further by concluding an agreement on the future relationship.

“The message from Gibraltar is that we wish to continue to engage with the institutions of the European Union, like the Committee of the Regions-United Kingdom Contact Group,” Dr Garcia told the committee, according to the statement from No.6.

“We value the work of your group and we would be delighted to work together on matters of common interest going forward.”