Spain’s Grande-Marlaska highlights border fluidity and cooperation with Gibraltar
Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the PSOE candidate for MP in Cadiz province and until recently Spain’s Minister for the Interior, said transit across the border “is guaranteed” irrespective of the outcome of Brexit.
In a wide-ranging interview with Europa Sur in which he reflected on the infrastructure and law enforcement challenges in the Campo de Gibraltar, he also welcomed cooperation with Gibraltar and said “a framework of trust” had been established to develop cross-border cooperation in different areas.
Mr Grande-Marlaska acknowledged the Brexit “impasse” but said the agreements reached as part of the withdrawal negotiations sought to mitigate the impact on cross-border workers and citizens in Gibraltar, “given most of them did not want Brexit”.
“We are not antagonistic, we want the co-existence between the two communities to continue,” he said.
The PSOE politician, who is contesting the election at the top of PSOE’s list of candidates in Sunday’s general election, said he had taken a close interest in the situation at the border in his role as minister.
“Transit is guaranteed,” he told the Campo newspaper, reflecting on recent trials of post-Brexit controls that caused tailbacks at the border.
“I’m conscious of what happens. We have to carry out rehearsals and this government cannot and must not shirk complying with its legal obligations.”
“[But] we are adamant that the current status quo at the fence [meaning the border] be maintained in order to guarantee normality and the movement of people.”
Mr Grande-Marlaska highlighted that the EU had given Spain the controlling voice on the bloc’s future relationship with Gibraltar, including controversially referring to the Rock as “a colony” in EU documents.
But he sought to play down the significance of that in Spain’s policies toward the Rock.
“The EU has for the first time identified Gibraltar as a colony thanks to this government, but I would rather not talk
in those terms and appeal instead for coexistence,” he said.
And he acknowledged too that on the back of the Brexit discussions and agreements, cooperation had already improved in critical areas such as tackling transnational organised crime.
“Everything can be improved,” he said, pressed by the interviewer.
“There is a path to develop, but we cannot ignore recent operations targeting organised crime networks and money laundering, and which have been carried out in cooperation with Gibraltar.”
“There is cooperation between both parties.”
“There is always disagreement on some issues even among the best of partners, but the important thing is that we have a framework of trust and common goals that guides us.