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29th December 2020, 13:57

Gibraltar will be 'only place where there is a hard Brexit' if no agreement reached before end of 2020, says Laya

The Spanish Foreign Minister has again warned that if no deal is reached over Gibraltar in the next 72 hours, the Rock will become “the only place where there is a hard Brexit” on the 1st January. Arancha Gonzalez Laya said Spain is still seeking an agreement that would create “an area of shared prosperity” on both sides of the frontier.

At a press conference, Ms Gonzalez Laya said if no agreement is reached, Gibraltarians would need to show their passports at the frontier as from the 1st January, and would also not benefit from other aspects of the Brexit deal applicable to the UK. She said Gibraltar would be outside EU airspace, and that its residents would no longer have access to the Spanish Social Security system, would need to have their driver’s licences specifically recognised, and would need to pay an extra charge on their car insurance – as, she said, is the case for all third country citizens.

The Spanish Foreign Minister said Spain would continue to negotiate till the last second of 2020 – and highlighted that the 31st December was a deadline set by the UK, not Spain or the EU. However, she said if an agreement in principle was reached before then, the frontier could be temporarily adapted while it was formalised

Ms Gonzalez Laya refused to be drawn publicly on the sticking-points in the negotiations. However, according to reports in El Pais, the negotiations are stuck on the question of whether Frontex agents should be deployed at entrance points to Gibraltar, and whether they should report to the Spanish authorities, as Spain says should be the case, arguing that it would have responsibility for complying with Schengen norms as neither the UK nor Gibraltar forms part of it. The newspaper cites unnamed sources from the Spanish Foreign Ministry as denying that Spain is demanding the presence of Spanish police officers at the Gibraltar airport.