With concerns over the coronavirus crisis taking up every waking moment for more than two months, it comes as a jolt to realise that the Brexit negotiations are still continuing. The UK government insists it will not ask for an extension to the transition period which is due to expire on 31 December this year, despite the EU indicating this week that it would be prepared to accept a two-year extension if the UK so wished.
Gibraltar is, of course, affected by Brexit, having had to leave the European Union alongside the UK. Although the matter has never been ignored, it has been in the background of the news while the government dealt with the Covid-19 situation. However, on Wednesday it was announced that the first Specialised Committee on Gibraltar, which was established under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, met for the first time, by videoconference
This is one of six such committees that were established by the Withdrawal Treaty. The others are on Northern Ireland, the Sovereign Bases in Cyprus, Citizens' Rights, Financial Provisions and Other Separation Provisions.
The Committee on Gibraltar, and all the others, comprise officials from the UK and the EU, which are the two signatories.
The Gibraltar government was represented by the Attorney General, Michael Llamas, and the director of Gibraltar House in Brussels, Daniel D'Amato.
The role of the Specialised Committees is to oversee both the UK and the EU implementation of the terms of the exit treaty.
The UK and Gibraltar representatives explained the positive work and engagement which have taken place regarding the areas which are covered by the four Memoranda of Understanding, following the meeting that took place in Algeciras in February.
It was confirmed that the next meetings of the MoU Committees will take place in Gibraltar.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office following the meeting stressed that the UK wholeheartedly supports the security and prosperity of Gibraltar, and that these meetings in no way affect UK sovereignty over Gibraltar which remains unchanged.