26th October 2021, 15:57
The UK's Brexit Minister Lord David Frost has expressed optimism on a treaty on Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU. While admitting that not enough had changed from the original negotiating mandate he said Madrid seemed to have taken a constructive approach and was confident problems could be overcome and a way through can be found.
He was responding to questions tabled by MPs in the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons.
The session focused mainly on Northern Ireland with Lord Frost saying that although there were similiarities in the discussions, there were many more differences such as the fact that the Rock has never formed part of the customs Union. He added the underlying situations are very different with different real life issues.
The inclusion of Frontex Officers, he said, solves one of the most visible problems, but he said there are others, including the fact that the EU is looking for more extensive alignments than were there in the New Year's Eve agreement, such as a greater role for the European Court of Justice.
In respect of trading, he pointed out the fact that Gibraltar does not produce goods, saying it doesn't make sense to impose irrelevant EU law and policing arrangements which make no meaningful sense on the Rock. Any final agreement, he told the Committee, has to take Gibraltar's specific circumstances into account and mirror the reality on the ground.
Lord Frost was keen to point out these were early days in the negotiations and the final agreement could differ from the opening position. Spain's positive attitude, he said, is one of the reasons why he felt an agreement is possible. He however expressed the wish that it won't take too long.