Lords EU Committee visits Gibraltar to examine impact of Brexit

On Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March, the EU Select Committee visits Gibraltar by way of follow-up to its March 2017 report on Brexit: Gibraltar. 

During the course of the visit, the Committee will meet the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, and will have the opportunity to visit the frontier with Spain, said the House of Lords. The Committee will also meet: Members of the Government and Parliament of Gibraltar The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses The Grupo Transforerizo (A cross-frontier group which brings together representatives on both sides of the Gibraltar-Spanish border) Representatives of the Port of Gibraltar and Gibraltar airport LORDS REPORT Negotiating on Gibraltar’s behalf, the UK Government will be responsible for ensuring that Gibraltar’s voice is heard, and its interests respected, throughout the Brexit process. The UK also has a responsibility to support Gibraltar in benefiting from any opportunities that arise following Brexit, including by participating in any new international trade deals, says the Lord report.

In the wake of the referendum result, Spain renewed calls for the UK to enter bilateral discussions on Gibraltar’s status, alongside Brexit negotiations, and proposed joint sovereignty as the only avenue for Gibraltar to protect its relationship with the EU. “We strongly endorse the UK Government’s commitment never to enter into sovereignty discussions against the will of the Gibraltarian people, and consider that, for the purposes of withdrawal negotiations, Gibraltar and the UK should be considered as a single State,” the Lord report says.

And it adds: EU membership has greatly facilitated cross-border cooperation between authorities in Gibraltar and Spain, particularly in police and judicial cooperation.

The UK Government should prioritise Gibraltar as part of its wider commitment to continuing cooperation on security and policing, to ensure that the border with Spain cannot be exploited by those seeking to evade justice.

It will be essential in the longer term to find a structure through which open lines of communication between Spain, the UK and Gibraltar can be maintained.

The EU itself has a continuing interest in this, to support the economic wellbeing of a neighbouring territory, develop good relations between Gibraltar and Spain, and to protect the welfare of EU national border residents.

Without prejudice to the UK’s commitment to Gibraltar’s sovereignty, the Government should give early thought to how such a structure might be established, what role the EU might play, and should seek agreement on this in tandem with Brexit negotiations.