The European Union said on Tuesday it was ready to start negotiations with the United Kingdom on post-Brexit provisions in Gibraltar, the southernmost British region of Spain.
The European Council, which represents 27 EU member states, indicated in a statement that the bloc’s position had been adopted in the negotiations and that the European Commission – the EU’s executive body – could start dialogues.
“The aim of the negotiations is to reach a comprehensive and balanced agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on Gibraltar, given the special geographical situation and the peculiarities of Gibraltar,” the statement read.
Gibraltar is not included in the EU-UK trade agreement, reached last year that lays out the foundations of their relationship and the mechanisms that can be used to settle disputes.
Gibraltar residents voted massively against Britain’s exit from the European Union. Now, they face big problems and their small land, economically and employment dependent on Spain, must face the consequences of divorce.
Spain, which has long sought to recover the territories ceded to Great Britain in 1713, has an agreement with the United Kingdom under which it manages the border with Gibraltar, allowing it to continue to be part of the Schengen free movement zone.
But the agreement – and the details of its operation – must be translated into a formal treaty, which requires negotiations between Brussels and London.
A Gibraltar government spokesman said the Gibraltar chief would issue a statement on the negotiations on Tuesday afternoon.
Gibraltar and British government officials are questioning the EU’s negotiating mandate, which was presented by the commission in July.
They expressed concerns about Spain’s control of the border, and to what extent EU legislation would apply to goods passing through it.
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