Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo said negotiations with the EU about the future of the Rock following the UK’s exit from the bloc were going well despite delays due to the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war. The British Overseas Territory has been at the centre of a bitter row between the UK and EU after Brexit, as access to Gibraltar was not included in the trade agreement.
Under an EU proposal, Spain would gain control over the country’s external border.
Since then, Madrid has stepped up its attempts to use Britain’s EU split to reclaim the British overseas territory.
But in a statement released on Wednesday evening, Mr Picardo said he is hopeful a deal could be reached that was agreeable to all sides in negotiations despite “logistical challenges”.
He said: “I want to extend a thank you from my Government and from the People of Gibraltar to all the officials in the respective negotiating teams in this negotiation for their efforts in this negotiation to date, despite the many logistical challenges it has represented.
“At a time when travel was uncomfortable and now when there are many other demands on their time, this issue continues to be given priority and we continue advancing positively and proactively seeking solutions to complex issues.
“I am strongly optimistic that we have found a route to a treaty to be concluded as soon as agreement is possible.”
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In December 2020, Spain and the UK struck a last-minute deal to avoid a hard border, just before the transition period drew to a close.
Under the terms of the deal, Gibraltar remains part of the Schengen passport-free area, which means British citizens will need to go through a Schengen border post to enter Gibraltar through its airport and seaport.
During a four-year transition, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, called Frontex, will patrol both access points.
Gibraltar was captured in 1704 and by 1713 the Spanish Crown formally ceded the territory to the British Crown.
Spain attempted to recapture the territory twice.