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Sunak and Sanchez agree on need to conclude Gib treaty ‘as soon as possible’

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez, agreed on Thursday on the importance of finalising a “suitable” UK/EU treaty for Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations with the bloc “as soon as possible”.

The two men discussed Gibraltar during a phone call on Thursday morning, according to No.10 Downing Street.

The conversation touched on a range of issues around the UK and Spain’s relationship, and on key international challenges such as illegal migration and energy security.

“They welcomed the strong and growing economic, security and cultural ties between the UK and Spain, as well as wider cooperation with European partners,” No.10 said in a statement.

“The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of working together on issues such as tackling illegal migration and energy security.”

“He noted the opportunity our countries will have to address these shared challenges when the UK and Spain host future meetings of the European Political Community.”

“On Gibraltar, the leaders agreed on the importance of progressing negotiations on a UK-EU Treaty and concluding a suitable agreement as soon as possible.”

“They also discussed the situation in Ukraine and reaffirmed the UK and Spain’s enduring support for Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s illegal invasion and President Zelenskyy’s plan for peace.”

Mr Sunak and Mr Sanchez were speaking less than a fortnight after the last formal round of talks between the UK – with Gibraltar - and the EU, which took place in London late April.

Details of the negotiation and any remaining stumbling blocks remain tightly under wraps to protect the integrity of the talks.

But speaking to Spanish media during an event in Madrid days after the last round of discussions, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was upbeat about the prospects of a deal being agreed.

“Not only do I think it’s possible, I think it’s likely,” he told Spanish state-owned news agency Efe, when asked if a treaty could be concluded to coincide with Spain’s presidency of the EU in the second half of this year.

“We’re very close to the finishing line for a great agreement that is good for all sides, and where everyone wins and no one loses.”

In parallel to the last round of talks in London, the UK and Spain defence ministers, Ben Wallace and Margarita Robles, also met in London, and highlighted too the importance of securing a deal for Gibraltar.

"We have emphasized the urgent need for a prompt agreement, which is essential and fundamental, far beyond the scope of bilateral relations, for the context of security in that important geographical area that is Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean," she told Efe at the time.

After noting that negotiations were being conducted by their respective foreign affairs ministries, she stressed that both she and Mr Wallace were "aware of the geographical situation and the risks we have at this time."

"I have conveyed the need to reach an agreement as soon as possible, and he also agreed that negotiations should continue to reach an agreement," she added.

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