CM Fabian Picardo in a file photo. / AFP

Challenging times ahead this year, warns the Gibraltar government

The chief minister says "we must fasten our collective seatbelts", and the deputy CM confirms there will be some tough decisions to make in 2022

Debbie Bartlett

People in Gibraltar face challenges this year, due not only to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic but also with regard to the negotiations about Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU.

Chief minister Fabian Picardo and deputy chief minister Dr Joseph Garcia, who holds the Brexit portfolio, have both warned recently that 2022 will be a challenging year, with Garcia saying there will be some tough decisions to make.

Picardo is due to make his full New Year's Address very soon, but in a statement in the meantime he told the population "we must fasten our collective seatbelts, because the political year to come is going to be no easier than the two challenging years we have just been through".

He was referring to the EU negotiations, and said that they will bring change, whether they succeed or fail.

In his New Year message Dr Garcia spells out what some of the changes could be, depending on whether agreement is reached with the EU or not, saying that the importance of a successful outcome to the treaty negotiations is not lost on anyone. He explains that if there is no treaty, there is likely to be greater bureaucracy, disruption and red-tape for citizens and businesses in Gibraltar in their interactions with the EU.

Both ministers have also stressed that they will not accept any deal that impinges on British sovereignty, and that they will walk away from a treaty rather than compromise that.

The talks with the EU began later than expected, but it is hoped that they can be concluded by Easter. In the meantime, as Picardo warned, "we must fasten our collective seatbelts".