Govt briefs Commons committee on Gibraltar and Brexit
The Gibraltar Government has made a submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons on the consequences for Gibraltar of the UK referendum on EU membership.
In the document, the Government seeks “clarity” as to how the UK will ensure that Gibraltar’s rights are protected in the event of a Brexit and subsequent negotiations with the EU.
The document explains that Gibraltar entered the European Economic Community, as it was then, in 1973 as a European territory for whose external relations a Member State is responsible.
It outlines Gibraltar’s terms of membership and traces the sequence of events that led to the opening of the border in 1985.
The paper reminds the Committee that “EU membership has been an important factor in the development of Gibraltar’s economy” and it explains how Gibraltar has embraced the challenge of compliance with regulations and directives.
It stresses that access to the single market is important to Gibraltar’s economy and adds that commerce in Gibraltar and in the neighbouring Spanish region relies on a free flow through the border.
The Government points out the importance to Gibraltar of ensuring proper access through the frontier and it gives details of the problems that arose in 2013 which necessitated the personal intervention of the Prime Minister David Cameron.
“Our membership of the European Union has been a unifying issue in Gibraltar politics”, the paper points out, adding that both the Government and the Opposition in Gibraltar are united on the position of remaining in the European Union.
It “is important that there should be clarity as to the rights the British Government will protect and defend for Gibraltar in the context of its own negotiations if the referendum decides for leaving the EU,” the paper states.
The Government warned that it is essential that the UK guards against attempts by Spain to take advantage of the present situation by advancing its claim to Gibraltar.
In a covering letter to the Chairman of the Committee, Crispin Blunt, the deputy Chief
Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, who is also the Minister for European Affairs, has said that the position of the Gibraltar Parliament, the Gibraltar Government, the Opposition and all the political parties in Gibraltar is that remaining in the EU is “undoubtedly” the outcome that would be in Gibraltar’s best interests.
“We believe that our position on a vote to stay will be substantially reflected in the outcome in Gibraltar when our people exercise their right to vote on this issue of vital importance, not just to Gibraltar but to the United Kingdom and the European Union itself,” he wrote.
The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said: "I think it is important that we should make our position clear to the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
“They have been very helpful to Gibraltar in the past and I have no doubt that the submission of our paper will greatly assist them and other British parliamentarians to understand the deeply held concerns of the people of Gibraltar.”