Negotiations on the future of the Gibraltar remain open with the UK despite the Rock’s desire to establish a free transit area
While everything may change within days, the dialogue remains stranded because of the absence of a general EU-UK agreement that would provide a basis for a possible agreement, and also because of differences regarding key issues such as fiscal transparency in Gibraltar and the fight against trafficking.
The Rock authorities have stressed time and again that the creation of an area of shared prosperity made up of the Campo de Gibraltar region and Gibraltar is the most beneficial agreement for all. How? By extending the Schengen agreement on the free movement of persons to its territory. This would represent a significant advantage for the region in comparison with the current situation, since it would mean the elimination of the current customs control, located on its border with La Línea de la Concepción, and its transfer to the port and airport of La Roca, which would become the new external border.
To what extent is there a consensus on this with Spain? That is where the versions differ. Fabián Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, states that the consensus can already be felt with his fingertips, but Spanish diplomatic sources have cooled their enthusiasm: the creation of a free movement zone is only on the table because the Rock has proposed it, not because it has a preferential place over other formulas for future coexistence.
There are several major obstacles to the last colony on European soil having a free passage with the rest of the continent. One of them is that the United Kingdom is making this extension of the Schengen territory to Gibraltar conditional upon control of this new external border of the EU not remaining in the hands of Spain, which refuses to take a step backwards in the defence of its sovereignty over the Rock, but of Frontex. The purpose of this European agency is to help the EU Member States and the countries associated with Schengen – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland – to protect their external borders.