Negotiators reconvene on Tuesday for treaty talks
Talks for a UK-EU treaty on Gibraltar will resume on Tuesday and continue into the following week, as negotiators split the three-day session to accommodate the school mid-term holidays.
The first part of the sixth round of talks will take place in Brussels on Tuesday and the next session is scheduled for March 1 and 2 in London.
“The sixth round of negotiations are being split due to school holidays,” a European Commission official told the Chronicle.
Negotiators anticipate there will likely be additional rounds of talks after this one.
The latest meetings come amid mounting unease as the date set by negotiators to reach agreement looms.
Earlier this month, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said negotiators were aiming for agreement by Easter but that they would reconvene for “as many rounds as necessary” in order to reach a deal.
With few details released of the content of the talks or the remaining issues to resolve, Mr Albares played down concerns that the negotiations had stalled.
Speaking just days after the Gibraltar Government published a lengthy booklet setting out preparation for a non-negotiated outcome to the talks, he said Spain had no desire to strictly apply EU border legislation at its frontier with Gibraltar.
“A significant part of [the treaty] has already been agreed, although nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said.
“And I can’t go into details.”
“[But] I have the sense that we are all rowing in the same direction.”
The negotiators hope to reach an agreement allowing a common travel area between Gibraltar and the Schengen zone.
Spain, as neighbouring country, would take responsibility on behalf of the EU for Schengen immigration checks in Gibraltar, but Frontex officers would carry out the actual physical controls on the ground, at least for the first four years.
There is also the possibility of a bespoke arrangement on customs.