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Opinion & Analysis

Open letter from Cross Frontier Group on treaty talks

Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

By George Dyke

The union, business and economic entities that make up the Cross Frontier Group: On the Spanish side: Comisiones Obreras, Union General de Trabajadores, Asociacion de Pequeña y Mediana Empresa de La Linea, AADELL, Confederacion de Empresas de la Provincia de Cádiz and Camara de Comercio del Campo de Gibraltar, and on the Gibraltar side: Unite the Union, NASUWT (Gibraltar Teachers Union), Gibraltar General and Clerical Association, Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses and The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce; have for years now demanded an agreement between governments that would allow us to maintain and enhance the levels of cross-frontier cooperation in our area, safeguarding the living and working conditions of it’s citizens.

That is why when, on December 31, 2020, we received the news of a political agreement between government representatives, known as the "New Year's Eve Agreement", we breathed a sigh of relief, since we had been defending the need for it and had been working for months from the conviction that a "no agreement was not an option." An agreement that clearly leaves aside issues related to the dispute over sovereignty, and which provided answers to the demands of the citizenship.

We have always been aware of the difficulties of the Brexit negotiating process and the particularities of the only continental land border affected by it. This is why we had welcomed the agreement that had been reached. Although it was not the end of the road, it did set out a route that, although not exempt from difficulties, was worth following..

During the two years that have elapsed since the signing of the "New Year's Eve Agreement", we have followed with expectation the negotiating process to convert that commitment into an international treaty. However the successive delays and the scant information received have caused notable unease among the thousands of citizens and businesses, whose future is significantly linked to the achievement of an agreement.

The current state of affairs on this matter and the uncertainty caused by the contradictory news emanating from the negotiating process are subjecting the citizens of our area to stress, that we believe should be stopped immediately, through an agreement that allows

for the promised and longed-for reality of “Shared Prosperity” and the dismantling of the border crossing for citizens and goods.

The entities that make up this Cross Frontier Group are firmly convinced that any scenario without an agreement would be devastating for the interests of the citizens of the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar, and would mean a huge political failure for those involved in the process for which they will have to take responsibility.

We consider it opportune, at this delicate moment in the negotiating process, that the political leaders should be made aware of the feelings of civil society and that they should make every effort to respond to their concerns, which involves giving effect to what was agreed in the "New Year's Eve Agreement", in a legal document that provides the necessary legal framework upon which to deepen the economic and social cooperation between both communities.

• Given the foregoing, the entities that make up this Cross Frontier Group address all the parties participating in the negotiating process - European Commission, Government of Spain, Government of the United Kingdom and Government of Gibraltar - and urge them once again to reach an agreement, in the form of a treaty, which develops the spirit and letter of the "New Year's Eve Agreement".

• At the same time, we call on you all to develop this with the objective of completing a legal framework that allows for maintenance and improvement of the economic, social and cultural relations between both communities. And that this new framework of relations should allow for the future development and cooperation between Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar, in the desired and promised "Area of Shared Prosperity" and the disappearance of the border crossing that weighs heavily on our demand for progress is this regard.

Given the foregoing, we write to share our concerns and desires, as well as to request a meeting with you or with the person you designate, in order to be able to further delve into these issues.

George Dyke is the President of the Cross Frontier Group. This is the text of an open letter sent by the Cross Frontier Group to the Prime Ministers of the UK and Spain, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, and the President of the European Commission.

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