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House of Commons publishes report on Brexit and UK OT’s

A report analysing the impact of Brexit for the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar, has been published by the House of Commons, highlighting OTs found themselves in a “challenging” situation after being left out of the UK-EU trade agreement.

The report offers little new insight but provides a synopsis of how the OTs have responded to Brexit.

The 48-page report outlined how OT Governments focused on the potential loss of EU funding, free movement, and market access.

The report added that, despite the request of the UK Government, the EU declined to allow the Territories to be covered by the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), meaning some OT exports to the EU now face tariffs, describing how in 2017 the UK Government pledged to work with the Territories to protect and strengthen their status post-Brexit.

In a section on Gibraltar, the document notes the negotiations that have taken place over the past six years negotiations, and how during this time bridging measures were put put in place and some agreements reached.

“Following on from agreement of the draft protocol, the governments of the UK and Spain, together with the Government of Gibraltar, concluded four Memorandums of Understanding on Gibraltar in November 2018,” the report said.

“These covered citizens’ rights, cooperation on environmental matters, cooperation in police and customs matters, tobacco, and other products. The three governments also agreed to conclude a tax agreement covering tax transparency and cooperation.”

“Some of these arrangements were intended to apply until the end of the Brexit transition period, at which point it was envisaged that new agreements would enter into force.”

“However, negotiations for these are ongoing.”

The report added the negotiations led to a non-binding framework agreement on December 31, 2020.

“This was intended as the basis of negotiations between the UK and EU on an agreement relating to Gibraltar,” the report said.

“The framework agreement included a provision for Gibraltar to become part of the EU internal border-free Schengen area. Physical infrastructure and barriers to the movement of goods and people at the Gibraltar-Spain border would be removed.”

The EU published its proposals for talks in July 2021, but was met with objections from both the UK and Gibraltar Governments.

“The Chief Minister said the key issue to be resolved was arrangements for checks on persons entering the Schengen area via Gibraltar,” the report said.

“As set out in the framework agreement in December 2020, Spanish officials would have responsibility for carrying out checks on people entering the Schengen area via the entry points in Gibraltar.”

“This would prevent any need for checks at the border between Spain and Gibraltar.”

“Spanish officials would be assisted in doing this by the EU Frontex border agency for an initial four- years. The practicalities of implementing these arrangements still however needed to be agreed.”

“There has been speculation that the EU may halt talks, or hold back on finalising an agreement, in response to the UK’s decision to make unilateral changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

“There have also been reports in recent months of the Spanish authorities implementing stricter checks on people crossing the border from Gibraltar.”

“This included denying entry to UK nationals with temporary resident permits in Gibraltar. The matter has been raised with the UK Government by the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee.”

The report also included how Spanish Governments have sought to reclaim Gibraltar by peaceful means, and proposed shared or joint sovereignty with the UK.

“Successive UK Governments have rejected making any changes against the wishes of the Gibraltarians,” the report said.