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4th June 2021, 20:21

No change of policy at the frontier says Spanish Government, despite longer than normal queues

The Spanish Government says there has not been a change of policy at the frontier, despite longer than normal queues for much of Friday.

In answer to GBC questions about the wet-stamping of passports, introduced this week, a spokeperson for the Interior Ministry said what Spanish police are doing is "strictly applying the current regulatory framework".

The Chief Minister says he was in touch with the UK and Spanish Governments yesterday and has been assured that the stamping will revert to the position that existed previously - but for Gibraltar residents only. Fabian Picardo says anyone going to Spain should take their passport, as a travel document, and their identity card, as a residence document.

Following the New Year's Eve In Principle Agreement, Gibraltar, the UK and Spain agreed that a series of bridging measures would be put in place to provide for a degree of continuity and normality in the Rock's relationship with the EU and Spain, while a new UK-EU Treaty about Gibraltar is negotiated.

The Government says those measures were partly based on the Spanish Royal Decree, which continues in force until the 30th June, and which Spain itself has said will be extended, partly on administrative practices and partly on the existence of the set of MoUs.

The wet-stamping of passports of non EU nationals who enter and exit the Schengen area is a requirement of the Schengen Border code.

Holders of UK passports are subject to such stamping, no matter where they enter or leave the European Union. This is the mechanism used to keep a count and ensure that there is no overstay.

Gibraltar is not in the EU and is not in the Schengen area. UK passport holders, including Gibraltarians, are entitled to a stay of 90 days in 180, visa free in Schengen countries.

The Government says the indications are that the practice at the Gibraltar-Spain border has become entangled with the wider expiry of the time limits for UK nationals resident in Spain to regularise their position, as well as the opening of the Spanish market to UK holidaymakers post Covid restrictions.