THE latest round of talks held December 14 in Brussels on Gibraltar’s EU treaty between the UK and Spain has failed to reach a final agreement.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares said Wednesday negotiations would continue after a meeting in Madrid.
Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo linked with the pair via video link from No.6 Convent Place on parts of the talks relevant to the Rock.
It followed Gibraltar’s attorney-general Michael Llamas returning from the eleventh round of talks in Brussels attended by Picardo via video-link.
Cleverly and Albares seemed to have struck a chord of mutual understanding in the Madrid meeting.
The UK Foreign Secretary said the negotiations were ‘done in an optimistic and positive spirit’ and ‘significant progress has been made’.
Cleverly said he was ‘committed to an agreement as soon as possible’ which he said was ‘possible’ to sign a treaty for a positive outcome to the treaty.
Albares said the deal he had proposed included ‘the joint use of the airport and the equalisation of the Spaniards who have paid their social security in Gibraltar with the residents of Gibraltar’.
The Spanish minister said he wanted the ‘Community Care’ fund to be part of that pensions ‘equalisation’.
Picardo said on Wednesday he had rejected in the past and continued to reject the joint use of the airport with Spain, despite the 2006 Cordoba Agreement reaching such an accord in the past.
“Those agreements have not come into material effect,” he said.
Instead, he said that ‘we continue committed to enhanced use of the airport for the benefit of all those around us’.
On the pensions issue, the Rock’s leader said that ‘Community Care is misunderstood by those who believe that it leads to any discrimination’. But he did not dwell further on what if this was an actual disagreement.
He insisted that there would be ‘a common travel area between its immigration and the Schengen zone’ and this was not in dispute between all parties.
The Chief Minister said he has spent 10% of his adult life trying to make a post-Brexit agreement and was not giving up.
But he admitted that ‘there are enemies of this process’ even though all three parts wanted to get it done.
He was also keen to highlight the possible benefits of a deal.
“An EU treaty can promote unprecedented economic growth in Gibraltar and in the region of the Campo de Gibraltar, generating unparalleled wealth for people on both sides of the frontier,” Picardo said.
Finally, he said any agreement must be ‘safe, secure and beneficial’ for it to be acceptable.