Gibraltar and UK reject EU mandate as 'unacceptable'

Dominic Raab, centre, with Fabian Picardo and Joseph Garcia. SUR
Dominic Raab, centre, with Fabian Picardo and Joseph Garcia. SUR
  • The European Commission's draft mandate for negotiations proposes that Spanish officers staff the Schengen border

The European Commission (EC) published its draft mandate for negotiations regarding Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU this week, but it was swiftly rejected by the Gibraltar and UK governments, who claimed that, among other things, it would undermine British sovereignty.

Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, was the first to speak out, just hours after the draft document was released, saying "the mandate published today strays unhelpfully from the New Year's Eve Framework Agreement and cannot form the basis for the negotiation of an agreement of a UK Treaty with the EU in relation to Gibraltar". He said Gibraltar would continue to plan for a situation where no agreement was possible.

Soon afterwards the UK's Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab, said the EU mandate "directly conflicts" with the agreement made between Gibraltar, UK and Spain at the end of last year.

The main point which has led to such an angry response was the EC's proposal that Spanish officers should be responsible for manning the new Schengen border at Gibraltar's airport and port. This was a red line which Gibraltar insisted from the start could not be crossed, and that is why it was proposed that officers from the EU's Frontex force should do so instead.

Spain's new Foreign Minister, José María Albares, who met Dominic Raab on Thursday, has also confirmed that Spain is committed to the terms of the preliminary agreement signed last year, and that the potential treaty would be good, not only for Gibraltar, but for the nearest area of Spain.