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UK and Spain see ‘constructive’ progress in Gib treaty talks, which will continue in 2022

Pic: David Parody

The UK and Spanish governments have both highlighted “constructive” progress in UK-EU talks on a treaty for Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations with the bloc.

The statements on Thursday morning come after the fourth round of negotiations concluded in London on Wednesday, with the negotiations set to continue into 2022 with the aim of reaching a deal by Easter.

They follow too a meeting in Madrid on Wednesday evening between UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Albares.

The two minnisters discussed a range of issues important to both the UK and Spain, including the negotiations on Gibraltar.

“The Foreign Ministers welcomed the constructive nature of negotiations between the EU and the UK in respect of Gibraltar and reaffirmed their shared commitment to the Political Framework of 2020, and agreed that it is in everyone’s interest to aim to conclude these talks in Q1 2022,” the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement.

“The UK maintained its position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar.”

Spain’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs said the four first rounds of negotiation had been “very productive”.

“Both ministers exchanged views on aspects of the negotiation, which is being conducted on the basis of the Commission’s mandate and the proposals presented by the UK,” the Spanish ministry said in a statement.

“They considered that the negotiations had been very productive and reflect the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible”.

Negotiators had made “significant advances” toward an agreement, the ministry added in the statement, stressing too that any deal must respect the EU acquis and the legal positions of both Spain and the UK.

The discussions had focused on areas including free movement of people and goods, competition, environment, coordination of social security systems and citizens’ rights.

The Spanish ministry said the talks would continue into 2022 and were taking longer as a result of the “complexity of the issues under discussions and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The two ministers also agreed the extension of the memorandums reached as part of the Withdrawal Agreement and of interim measures to ensure continued frontier fluidity pending the outcome of the treaty talks.

The trip to Madrid was the Foreign Secretary’s first bilateral European visit in her first 100 days in office.
The ministers agreed to work closely across the international agenda including on “combating malign actors”, tackling illegal migration and the upcoming NATO summit in Madrid in 2022.

They agreed to work on new energy and tech collaborations.

“Both underlined the strength of our economic and commercial relations, and the importance of contacts between our societies and citizens - a truly special aspect of our bilateral relationship,” the FCDO statement added.

The UK and Spanish statements on Thursday morning came after the Gibraltar Government also signalled progress in the negotiations.

“There has been progress in the first four rounds and it is clear that all parties are determined to move forward in a positive and constructive manner to find solutions to the complex political and technical issues under discussion,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

“It will be recalled that, although the political framework was concluded on 31 December 2020, the actual negotiating process did not commence until October 2021, once the EU had completed its own internal procedures.”

“The objective at this time is to conclude an agreement before Easter.”

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