No EU treaty for Gibraltar yet, but the government is still positive, says Picardo

No EU treaty for Gibraltar yet, but the government is still positive, says Picardo
  • The delay is because the EU has not yet finalised a mandate for the negotiations, but Gibraltar and Spain still appear confident

The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, was the subject of a security scare in Madrid this week, where he was addressing the Club Siglo XXI association in Madrid about the current situation regarding Brexit and the proposed treaty regarding Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU.

Shortly after he began speaking, there were shouts of 'Gibraltar Español' (Gibraltar is Spanish) from a remotely operated Bluetooth speaker hidden in a rucksack close to where the chief minister was sitting. Members of the youth wing of the far-right Vox party later claimed responsibility. The incident only lastedfor a moment, and the meeting then continued as planned.

To the public in general, there has been little news about this proposed treaty, which would see Gibraltar having access to the Schengen area, among other things. However, Picardo's message to Club Siglo XXI was positive and optimistic. He gave the background to the talks which resulted in the New Year's Eve agreement, which forms the framework for a possible treaty, and explained how Spain's hardline attitude towards Gibraltar and Brexit had changed since the EU referendum. He also described the advantages of the treaty for Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar area of Spain, by creating an area of shared prosperity.

Of course, what was obvious to everyone in the room was that at present there is no treaty and no sign of one being agreed any time soon, but Picardo did not seem perturbed and still remained confident. In fact, on Wednesday the Gibraltar government issued a press release stating that the absence of a treaty does not blunt enthusiasm and optimism for it. The EU has still not finalised a mandate for the negotiations, but the government is still positive about the final outcome.

That said, Gibraltar is preparing contingency plans in case things go wrong, as it did for the event of a No Deal Brexit. This week local and UK officials held the first meeting of the No Negotiated Outcome board, to coordinate preparations in the event that no treaty is possible. The government says this is prudent and sensible, although it is fully committed to the process.