Gibraltar will continue to grow in a post-Brexit world and Spain should not create obstacles to cross-border cooperation that will generate jobs and wealth for the region, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told a seminar in the neighboring town of San Roque in Andalucía.
Speaking at the annual summer course in San Roque organized by the University of Cadiz, the Chief Minister highlighted how Gibraltar had attracted new business since the Brexit vote and identified fresh opportunities going forward.
Picardo said this growth was happening “at a very difficult moment”, adding that if businesses remained confident “then little should change for citizens”.
Reflecting on Clause 24 of the EU’s negotiating guidelines, Picardo questioned why Spain would want to exclude the Rock, not least because “we could create employment opportunities for all this area”.
He said the UK was committed to including Gibraltar in any future agreement, but said Spain should put the protection of citizens above its territorial aspirations.
Picardo said Gibraltar would protect the rights of EU citizens working on the Rock before the withdrawal date in 2019, but that the position beyond that would depend in part on Spain’s position toward the Rock.
“Brexit changes everything, but sometimes everything has to change in order to remain the same,” he said, highlighting that the bulk of Gibraltar’s financial services and gaming business was with the UK.
“We are seeing opportunities for Gibraltar that we had not seen before now.”
“The important thing is to have access to the UK market, more than the European market.” And he added: “I see a prosperous future for Gibraltar and it is an opportunity to access the global market.”
“In that future, we must not permit new barriers to understanding and cooperation between Gibraltar, the Campo, the EU and Spain.” Clause 24, he added, “is not a diplomatic victory”
“Gibraltar will continue to be a source of employment with community rights for Campo citizens and I urge the Spanish Government not to be an obstacle to that, he said.
The Chief Minister spoke of the 12,000 European citizens who work in Gibraltar, highlighting that the number of Spanish workers had risen from 3,400 five years ago to 7,800 at present.