In the future, looking back, 2021 will be remembered as a year full of stops and starts, of highs and lows, of excitement and disappointments, many of them the result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The year began on a very positive note, with the announcement that the governments of Gibraltar, UK and Spain had signed a last-minute agreement-in-principle in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, which would form the framework for negotiations over Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU. It caused widespread astonishment because it included the ambitious proposal that Gibraltar would have tailormade access to the Schengen area, thereby eliminating border problems caused by Brexit.
At the time, it was hoped that everything could be finalised in six months, but the EU was not able to confirm its negotiating mandate until October, so the talks will now continue into 2022, although it is hoped that the new Treaty will be possible by Easter. However, the Gibraltar government is still making it clear that an agreement with the EU is by no means guaranteed.
There was also excitement at the announcement in February that Eastern Airways was to start running twice-weekly flights from Southampton and Birmingham in May, but by October the airline had announced that it was discontinuing them during the winter due to uncertainty, and in December Wizz Air also dropped its Luton route.
Gibraltar made a name for itself worldwide for its excellent vaccine roll-out this year and its subsequent successful booster campaign but unfortunately, like everywhere else, Covid-19 has proven a formidable enemy and Gibraltar ends the year mourning the loss of 100 of its people from the virus.
Nevertheless, a new year always marks a fresh start, and there is plenty of optimism on the Rock that 2022 will bring good news and positivity.