Authorities in Spain have proposed that Gibraltar should be added to the EU’s passport-free Schengen area when the Brexit transition period ends to facilitate movement between the two territories.
The Politico website reported that Spain presented this idea during recent meetings that were held in Madrid, between government representatives from both Gibraltar and the UK.
When Brexit is finalised on December 31, 2020, Gibraltar (which is a British Overseas Territory), alongside the UK will no longer be a part of the EU.
If, however, Spain’s proposal is approved, Gibraltar would have a similar agreement as Liechtenstein. This means that it would be a member of the Schengen Zone but not a member of the European Union.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo has backed Spain’s proposal.
The UK still applies the bloc’s rules until the transition period ends at the end of 2020, even though it left the European Union at the end of last year after the UK voted to leave in 2016.
During the 2016 referendum, a massive 96% of Gibraltar’s citizens actually voted to remain in the EU.
Part of the European Union single market, Gibraltar was permitted to trade freely within the EU countries, but never in the Schengen Zone, just like the UK.
Nearly 15,000 people who live in La Linea de la Concepcion, in the south of Spain, cross the border daily to work in Gibraltar. Roughly 9,000 of these people are Spanish and 6,000 of them British.
The UK didn’t take part in the Schengen Zone agreement during its time as a member of the European Union, so if this proposal comes to life and Gibraltar is included in the Schengen Zone, It would be considered a controversial move for the UK.
In a statement last week, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office sought to clarify its stance on Gibraltar post-Brexit. It said, “The U.K. government has always been clear that Gibraltar is an integral part of our negotiations with the EU and we continue to seek outcomes which support Gibraltar’s interests”.
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