The border control in Gibraltar. / efe


Gibraltar is trying to resolve the blue card border problem, but may not be successful

The government says Spain is within its rights to stamp the passports of holders of blue Civil Registration cards, because the decision not to do so was unilateral and voluntary

Debbie Bartlett

The Gibraltar government says it is continuing to raise the problem of people with blue residence cards having their passports stamped at the border with the relevant authorities, but warns that Spain is in its rights to do this and there may be nothing it can do.

Yesterday, the opposition said the government should be doing more about the problem, which does not affect Gibraltarians who hold red identity cards, only non-Gibraltarian residents with the blue Civil Registration cards whenever they cross into or back out of Spain.

In a statement issued today, the government said it has made it clear in public that it is not satisfied with the situation and would like to see it resolved. However, the default position on Britain’s departure from the EU and the end of the transition period was that all UK passports would be stamped in line with the requirements of the Schengen Border Code. The reason for this is to keep track of the 90 in 180 day visa-free entitlement period in Schengen for UK passport holders.

As part of the interim measures put into place while negotiations over Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU take place, Spain volunteered not to stamp the passports of people who presented red or blue cards at the border. However, at the beginning of this month the UK stopped accepting EU ID cards and insisted that EU travellers must have passports to enter the country, and that is when Spain began to stamp the passports of Gibraltar blue card holders.

“Given what the default position actually is,” says the government, “it is clear that this limits what the United Kingdom or Gibraltar can actually do. It is relevant to point out, nonetheless, that the stamping of all UK passports in and out of the Schengen Area would also be the default position in the event of no agreement on the future relationship of Gibraltar with the EU. That is to say, what is happening now to blue civilian registration card holders will happen to all Gibraltar residents and Gibraltarians, regardless of status and colour of ID or Civilian Registration Cards. This is why the Government identified the importance of frontier fluidity for everyone early on and is working on a treaty based on the New Year’s Eve Agreement to provide exactly this”.