Positive Outlook for UK/EU Gibraltar Deal Following Extensive Negotiations

Following almost 20 rounds of talks, and lots of diplomatic pushing and pulling, there’s growing optimism that a UK/EU Gibraltar deal can be struck this summer.

Much of the Deal is Done

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According to both parties, much of the deal is already done. The broad terms of what an agreement will look like has been set – the final details need to be established though.

Both Parties Keen For a Deal

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Reports say that both the UK and Spanish/EU sides are eager to get a deal done, because of the importance of the region to both countries. For the UK Gibraltar has strategic military importance, and for Spain it’s an economic boost.

Land Border to Remain Open

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Given the thousands of people who travel between the two countries daily, it’s important that the land border works. Thousands of tourists and workers use the border freely at the moment.

Suggestions Gibraltar Could be Part of Schengen

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To help keep the border open, one of the suggestions is that Gibraltar forms part of the Schengen Zone, in which people can move between countries without passport and border checks.

Airport Proving a Key Difficulty

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At present the airport is wholly owned and operated by the UK, and serves as a key RAF base. Spain has voiced concerns that they need to control their own borders, so would want some say in the security there.

UK Government Has Concerns

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Given the potential sensitivity of the military operation that is based in Gibraltar, the security operation can not impact military actions. This is a red line for the UK government.

UK Government Clear on Military Security

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“There will be absolutely no agreement if it threatens the sovereignty of our military operations in Gibraltar. That is a key red line that would not be crossed.”

Joint Security a Proposal

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One possible way around the problem is that the airport acts as the land border, and Frontex (EU border agency) looks after the immigration side of the operation. They would perform the passport checks and the like.

Goods and Services Causing Spanish Concern

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Gibraltar enjoys a different tax status from the rest of the UK – it’s exempt from VAT (currently 20%). This means products such as cigarettes and alcohol are cheaper in the territory.

Spanish Don’t Want a Flood of Cheap Products

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Quite rightly, the Spanish government is keen to prevent Gibraltar serving as an access point where people can bring in large quantities of cheap tobacco and alcohol products, by avoiding their relevant taxes. 

Possible Limits on Goods Entering Spain

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As per previous arrangements with the continent, perhaps there could be border checks that ensure only a limited quantity of certain products could cross the border. 

Latest Talks Expected to Cover Complex Issues

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Later this week, David Cameron is expected to speak with European counterparts in an attempt to get this deal closer. As the soft June deadline appears on the horizon, it’s time for both sides to buckle in.

Optimism For Progress From UK Side

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The UK Government spokesman on the issue said “The Foreign Secretary is expected to discuss the most complex issues in the negotiations later this week. While a final agreement is not imminent, the meeting will provide a platform to make further progress.”

Gibraltar Can’t be a Political Football

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There are concerns from some that Gibraltar will end up being governed in a hybrid way, just to get a deal. EU in the sense it’s part of Schengen, but British in everything else.

MPs Keen to Stress This Isn’t the Case

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Foreign Office minister, David Rutley, said:  “We continue to work side by side with the government of Gibraltar and we will only agree to terms that the government of Gibraltar are content with.”

Geography Once Again Proving Problematic

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Just as in Northern Ireland, geography has thrown several extra complications into the mix here. Staunch Brexiteers disagree with any UK territory being part of Schengen, yet don’t appear to offer a credible alternative.

Gibraltar Shares Land Border With Spain

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In sharing a land border, it adds a level of complexity. Given it’s a particularly porous border, both sides rightly want to protect their safety and economic concerns. 

Ireland Outside of Schengen

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For negotiators, this is a different problem to solve. The only other UK/EU border is in Ireland, and there’s a common travel area between the two countries. There aren’t any tax havens in Northern Ireland, so the negotiations were largely painless here. Gibraltar is very different.

Nobody Said it Would be Easy

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Untangling decades of integration was never going to be easy, and this ongoing issue is proving to be the case. It’ll be solved, one way or another, but don’t expect it to be entirely painless for both sides.

The post Positive Outlook for UK/EU Gibraltar Deal Following Extensive Negotiations first appeared on 365 News.

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