The Spanish Government hopes to reach agreement on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relations with Spain and the EU by October against the backdrop of the UK’s wider withdrawal negotiations, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.
Sanchez was speaking after an informal meeting of EU heads of government in the Austrian city of Salzburg and said the PSOE was maintaining the same negotiating position on Gibraltar adopted by the previous Partido Popular administration.
“On the issue of Gibraltar, our focus is absolutely that of a matter of state and we hope to reach agreement with the United Kingdom in October,” he said.
“As such there is one dimension, which is the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, and another, more specific bilateral dimension, which is Spain with Gibraltar.”
Almost in tandem as Mr Sanchez was addressing reporters in Austria, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was making a statement to the Gibraltar Parliament outlining the latest developments in the Brexit process.
Picardo, referring to the “ongoing discrete contact” that the Gibraltar Government has been engaged in with the UK and EU members including Spain, said he remained confident that the withdrawal agreement “will fully apply” to Gibraltar.
“That means that any mechanisms agreed between the UK and the EU for orderly withdrawal and continued market access will fully cover Gibraltar and that we will enjoy continued access to the EU Single Market until at least the end of the transition period,” he said.
The Chief Minister referred to public statements in which Spanish ministers acknowledged contact not just with the UK but with Gibraltar too.
He gave solid assurances to Parliament that Gibraltar’s red lines were being upheld, adding that neither the PP nor the PSOE administrations had sought to advance Spain’s “sterile claim” within the context of the Brexit talks.
Had they tried to do so, he added, “…everyone knows that the answer from us, on behalf of the whole House and Gibraltar as a whole, would have been firm, clear and absolutely negative” (Gibraltar Chronicle).