20th July 2021, 20:36
Both the UK and Gibraltar have stated the European Commission's proposed mandate for the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement is unacceptable. The Foreign Secretary says it directly conflicts with the agreed framework, adding it seeks to undermine the UK’s sovereignty over Gibraltar, and cannot form a basis for negotiations.
Dominic Raab points out the UK, with Gibraltar, and Spain carefully agreed a pragmatic Framework Agreement, in full consultation with the EU Commission. He adds the UK has consistently showed pragmatism and flexibility in the search for arrangements that work for all sides, and is disappointed that this has not been reciprocated. He urges the EU to think again.
For its part the Government says the mandate "strays unhelpfully" from the New Year's Eve Agreement, saying of the current draft that there is "no possibility for this forming the basis for an agreement".
Nonetheless, it says it will continue to work with the UK government to explore all possibilities, and also continue the work to be ready in the event that a treaty cannot be negotiated.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry is urging the EU to respect the agreement.
The recommendation builds on the New Year's Eve agreement between the UK and Spain and honours the EU'scommitment to Spain to negotiate a separate agreement on Gibraltar after the Rock was excluded from the Brexit deal. The EU says the draft mandate is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on co-operation in the region while respecting the territorial integrity of its Member States.
It is the EU's opening hand, with much of its content totally unacceptable to Gibraltar's red lines. The negotiating mandate would see border checks and surveillance carried out by Spain at the airport, the port and in our waters. You can read the full document here.