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MEPs press EC on Gib transition deal as Barnier heads to London for talks

Two Gibraltar MEPs have asked the European Commission how the Brexit withdrawal agreement and transition arrangements will apply to Gibraltar.

The question was tabled in the European Parliament jointly by Conservative MEP Ashley Fox and Labour MEP Clare Moody.

It comes as the Brexit are poised to step up a gear next week when the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier travels to London for a meeting with David Davis.

The Brexit Secretary will see his Brussels counterpart on Monday as negotiations on a proposed transition deal gather pace.

Mr Davis tweeted: "Looking forward to welcoming @MichelBarnier to London on Monday. Important next step in our work to build new partnership between UK & EU."

In their question, the two MEPs highlight how in order to ensure an orderly and smooth departure, a transitional period is being negotiated with the UK, as part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

They therefore asked if the Commission agree that the ‘enthusiastic Europeans’ who live in Gibraltar, and who voted 96 % to remain in the European Union, are also entitled to an orderly and smooth departure, as are the 13,000 EU nationals from all parts of the Union who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar?

“Given that nobody has anything to gain from the non-application of transitional provisions to Gibraltar, can the Commission state whether it has any objections, in principle or in law, to Gibraltar maintaining its existing relationship with the European Union in line with any transitional arrangements negotiated with the UK for the period following March 2019?” they asked.

The meeting next week comes in the wake of a clash between the two sides over the rights of EU migrants who come to the UK during any transition period.

Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted that EU workers who arrive in the UK during the proposed transition arrangements from March 2019 to December 2020 cannot have the same status as people who came to Britain before withdrawal.

The talks also follow a rejection by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox of reports the UK is seeking a form of customs union with the EU after Brexit.

Officials will hold technical talks in Brussels next week, with the UK expected to give an update on its plans for the future relationship on February 9.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "My understanding of what the EU has set out is that these talks on the future relationship will be at a technical level looking at the process and structure of how the talks on the future relationship proceed."

Asked if Cabinet ministers on the Brexit sub-committee would hold crunch talks about the deal sought with Brussels, the spokesman said: "There are meetings of the sub-committee next week but we won't get into the discussion that will take place within those sub-committees."

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