Gibraltar says deal will be reached with EU in 2024

The future of the relationship between Gibraltar and the European Union will be decided in the first half of this year, Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Tuesday (9 January), concluding an almost eight-year-old negotiation.

Mr Picardo expressed optimism about the possibility of a quick resolution to the relationship that Gibraltar and the EU must maintain in the future, during his greetings to the Nation.

In his message, Mr. Picardo noted that “2024 is the year when, finally, it will be determined whether an agreement can be reached” with Brussels, awaiting a solution since the United Kingdom committed to leave the European Union in June 2016.

Gibraltar, a small piece of territory at the southern tip of the Spanish coast, has been a British colony since 1713, and its sovereignty has been claimed several times by Spain.

But Mr Picardo warned against “certain aspects of the debate with the EU and Spain which could make us uncomfortable” and called for “patience and stoic calm” during the negotiations, saying that these “will be our only allies”.

The Gibraltar leader also recommended being “ready to deal with any pressure that may arise” at the end of the negotiation period.

Spain denounces UK maritime activities off Gibraltar
The Spanish Foreign Office has lodged a formal complaint with the UK Embassy in Madrid regarding what Madrid considers three “serious incidents” in the waters near the Rock of Gibraltar in August.

Gibraltar placed on the tightrope

The chief minister, who had actively opposed Brexit, also highlighted that the process of Britain’s exit from the EU was “one of those cases of unmistakable adversity” that forced us “to sitting at a table we probably never wanted to be at” and which placed Gibraltar “on a tightrope”.

“We would not be negotiating this treaty if the UK had not voted to leave the EU,” Mr. Picardo stressed, adding that “anyone in Gibraltar suggests that these negotiations could have been concluded successfully earlier is pure fantasy.”

The Gibraltar leader appreciated the “close collaboration with the United Kingdom” and said they were moving forward in “this difficult and delicate negotiation towards a successful conclusion”.

In the Brexit referendum, held in June 2016, 96% of voters in Gibraltar voted to remain in the EU.

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