The regional president of Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, spent over an hour with the EU's Michel Barnier on Monday, minutes before the chief Brexit negotiator started a meeting with the UK delegation. The head of the Junta was keen to express the concern over the negative effects of a no-deal Brexit in Andalucía, where some 70,000 UK residents and many tourists contribute significantly to the local economy.
Moreno was on an official two-day visit to European Union institutions in Brussels this week, his first since becoming regional president earlier in the year. He met as well with the EU's Agriculture commissioner, Phil Hogan, who will soon take over as foreign policy boss, and also spoke at the EU's Committee of the Regions, which advises on regional policy. Also on his agenda was the discussion of the impact of the planned increase in tariffs on imports of some goods by the US government from 18 October, which could hit Andalucia's exports in key local sectors such as olive oil, wine and also meat products.
In addition to his concerns about UK residents, a central worry for Moreno over Brexit is any impact on the Campo de Gibraltar area for the some 10,000 Spanish people who work daily on the Rock, crossing the border.
The European Commission delegation expressed its "sensitivity" to the effects of the UK leaving the EU on Andalucía, and Moreno said after the meeting that he was "satisfied" by their response to his concerns after sharing, "the real worry in the region around Brexit".
Moreno added that Barnier had a good understanding of the region, saying that the meeting had been "fruitful, positive and sincere" and "very open", where the EU would aim for "fluid relations" with Andalucía over the coming weeks, as a possible hard Brexit approaches.
Land border with Britain
The Andalusian president also said he was satisfied by "the full transparency" of the EU's chief negotiator. "What puts my mind at rest is that Mr Barnier has a wide knowledge of Spain and Andalucía," added Moreno.
Apart from Ireland, Andalucía is the only part of Europe with a land border with British territory at La Línea de la Concepción.
"This is a critical week and we ask for caution; hoping, wanting, and trusting that the negotiation will be positive for Spain and Andalucía," said Moreno.
The regional president also handed Barnier a copy of the Junta de Andalucía's 112-point action plan to inject extra economic stimuli and protect against any Brexit downturn in the region.