As the UK is negotiating a trade deal with the EU concerning Northern Ireland, Gibraltar officials are working out the Rock’s post-Brexit position within Europe. Following the completion of a round of discussions, Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo appeared very optimistic over a “historic” outcome. Mr Picardo said: “We have within touching distance a historic treaty between the UK and the European Union”.
Speaking to the territory’s parliament, he stated that the upcoming agreement would create “renewed optimism in the European idea”.
A timeframe for the final agreement would be established at the beginning of June, according to the official.
A final text of the agreement will then go through the Council of Ministers and the Gibraltarian Parliament, before being ratified by London, EuropaSur reported.
Mr Picardo added: “[The agreement] will create opportunities for our further economic development and that of the region around us, and perhaps even beyond, across the Strait.
“I want to make it clear that the shared prosperity we are talking about is about business development, not about Gibraltar paying for the creation or maintenance of Spanish infrastructure.”
The head of Government refused to share any specific details concerning the projected agreement.
However, when asked about the sovereignty of Gibraltar, which is understood to be among the topics being discussed within the negotiations, he stressed that his objective remains clear.
He said: “Let me once again be exceedingly clear. The future of Gibraltar is exclusively British.
“Nothing in the negotiations has called this into question or challenged any of the basic tenets of British sovereignty over Gibraltar.
“And we are not being asked to do anything which might cross that objective of ours.”
And added: “Spanish negotiators know that if they raise the issue of the sovereignty of Gibraltar, the UK and Gibraltar will simply leave the negotiating room.
“We have not closed our files and left the table because no such thing has been raised or asked of us.”
From his side, Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares also appeared optimistic about the evolution of the discussions, which, he said, are “advancing at a good pace”.
Following a meeting with Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney, he said that the negotiations about Gibraltar and Northern Ireland are completely distinct.
During a press conference, he noted that the two topics do not interfere with one another, and noted that he trusted the “positive attitude” of the UK in treaty negotiations.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega