London : The government of Gibraltar has admitted that London and Brussels are putting the final touches to a specific protocol for the British Overseas Territory in the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement, and that there will be “a set of practical measures spelled out in separate arrangements with Spain covering tax cooperation, police and customs cooperation, the environment, citizens’ rights and tobacco.”
Talks have intensified ahead of a European Council meeting on Wednesday to review the state of negotiations with the UK over “Brexit,” the process by which the country will leave the 28-member bloc.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has been very cautious about his statements regarding the British Overseas Territory’s future relationship with the EU once the UK leaves. When EL PAÍS reported on September 17 that Spain wanted Gibraltar’s status to be encoded in a separate protocol, and that its contents were being negotiated between Madrid and London, the Gibraltarian government stated that there was no bilateral dialogue between the UK and Spain. Instead, it only admitted to “discreet contacts” between Madrid, London and Gibraltar, without offering any details.
But as negotiations over Brexit enter the final stretch, Gibraltar has now admitted that there will be “a specific protocol” in the Withdrawal Agreement, mirroring similar protocols for Northern Ireland and the British sovereign base areas in Cyprus.
In a press release following an extraordinary session of the Cabinet on Saturday, the Gibraltar government noted that the UK remains responsible for entering into international agreements on behalf of Gibraltar, but added that the Picardo administration “has made it clear that the practical implementation of the benefits and obligations of such agreements can only rest with the Gibraltar Government.”
“There will be a set of practical measures spelled out in separate arrangements with Spain covering tax cooperation, police and customs cooperation, the environment, citizens’ rights and tobacco. These will be time limited, where necessary, to the end of the transition period, which is December 2020,” the government says in its statement.