Gibraltar could soon join the EU's Schengen Zone after it was revealed that talks were progressing well.
Negotiations between the UK, Gibraltar and Spain which have been running alongside the UK’s post-Brexit trade negotiations are said to be at an advanced stage.
With a population of around 34,000, Gibraltar is heavily reliant on the inflow of products and goods including 15,000 Spanish workers who cross the border on a daily basis.
The UK’s imminent departure from the EU has rightly caused many to be concerned about their ability to continue to freely cross the border and carry out their work.
El País reported on Tuesday that London and Madrid were close to a deal which would allow the free movement for Gibraltarians and Spanish citizens.
However, as Gibraltar would become a part of the Schengen area, any British travellers arriving on the outcrop would be required to continue to show their passports and abide by Schengen immigration rules.
With around 96% of Gibraltar’s residents voting to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, a huge bonus for them would be that flights and therefore free movement within the 26 Shengen countries would be available.
Currently, Gibraltar can only accept flights directly from the UK as Spain has not agreed to the territory entering the EU’s aviation space.
Policing the territory is thought to be one of the last major hurdles in an agreement with Gibraltar reportedly refusing to allow Spanish security forces onto the island.
It is believed that an alternative option may be to use the EU’s Frontex border agency instead who are usually tasked with the border control of the European Schengen Area.
Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo said that “a Schengen-style agreement would be the most positive” move, praising the Spanish government for its continued efforts to find a solution.
“We are just a few phrases away from a historic agreement,” Mr Picardo said.
Spain’s foreign minister Arancha González Laya has previously said that it is the Spanish government's aim to to "create an area of shared prosperity" around the Bay of Gibraltar, which is considered to be one of the country’s poorest areas.
Talks are thought to be ongoing, while the UK and EU also look to come to an agreement on a post-Brexit trade deal with just eight days to go before the deadline expires.
January 14, 2021