The Gibraltar EU protocol


Gibraltar is an Overseas Territory of the UK. Gibraltar is covered by the territorial scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, including part four on the implementation period, along with the other Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies. The particular extent of application to each of these territories reflects its relationship with the EU before the UK’s withdrawal. 

The Protocol on Gibraltar between the UK and the EU will be underpinned by other arrangements between the UK, Spain and the Government of Gibraltar which set out the parties’ commitment to cooperation. These will be implemented in line with the constitutional arrangements in place between the UK and Gibraltar. These arrangements will include Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) covering citizens’ rights, tobacco, the environment, and police and customs cooperation, and will be concluded in the coming weeks. An agreement to conclude a treaty on taxation and the protection of financial interests is also expected to form part of the wider package. With the exception of provisions on citizens’ rights, the Protocol is limited to the duration of the implementation period. The MoUs will be similarly time limited.

The Protocol and other arrangements address issues of importance to citizens and businesses in Spain and Gibraltar; and reflect a shared desire to work together in a spirit of trust and solidarity in support of the shared prosperity and security of the area. They are, or will be, without prejudice to respective positions on sovereignty, and do not in any way affect the UK’s sovereignty over Gibraltar, including British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. Nothing in the Protocol affects the relationship between the UK and Gibraltar.

What does the Protocol cover: On citizens’ rights, the Protocol provides for close cooperation between the UK and Spain in relation to the implementation of part two of the Withdrawal Agreement, in Gibraltar and the surrounding area, including information exchange between competent authorities and the establishment of a coordinating committee to monitor and discuss these matters, which will be set out in the related MoU. This is particularly relevant given the role that the Gibraltar economy plays in providing employment to frontier workers from the surrounding area, and the Protocol recognises the importance of free movement continuing during the implementation period for the economic development of the area.55 The effect of part four on the implementation period is to maintain the status quo on the application of EU aviation legislation to Gibraltar Airport, including where there is currently a suspension of application in place. The Protocol updates the mechanism by which such suspension would be lifted, following agreement.

Article 3 addresses tax transparency and cooperation; and highlights efforts to address the public health risks of smoking and to prevent and deter illicit trade in tobacco products, alcohol and petrol. Further arrangements will be made in the tobacco MoU and the envisaged tax treaty.

The Protocol also requires the establishment of coordinating committees in relation to the environment and police and customs matters, which will be done in the corresponding MoUs.

The coordinating committees will report to the Specialised Committee on Gibraltar, arrangements for which are set out in Article 6 of the Protocol. The Specialised Committee, made up of representatives of the UK and the EU, will support the effective implementation of the Protocol and make recommendations to the Joint Committee as required.