Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, made a surprising statement to Gibraltar Television (GBC) on Tuesday night, in which he stated that the Rock “would not be an extension of the Schengen Area”, when talking about the negotiations between the European Union and Gibraltar on the future of the colony after Brexit.
Picardo’s statements have caused surprise in Madrid, where these negotiations between Brussels and London are closely followed, one of the main aspects of which is how to make possible the disappearance of the fence, for which Gibraltar would be included in the area of free movement of people.
The main stumbling block so far has been that the British want only Frontex agents to control the port and airport, but not the Spanish security forces, something that Spain cannot accept because it is responsible for the surveillance of what would be an external border of the European Union.
If Picardo now says that “Gibraltar would not be an extension of the Schengen Area, which would begin at the border with Spain” and that the Rock “would maintain its own entry points for immigrants”, the negotiations would become meaningless and the border would remain as it is, so that the rules that apply to any other non-EU territory, including the UK, would apply to the colony.
In recent weeks, Spanish authorities have suggested that an agreement could be reached before the end of the year, and just a few days ago, the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, asked the UK to respond to the proposals received to include Gibraltar in the Schengen Area. These proposals included the presence of Spanish agents at Gibraltar’s entry points, with the support of Frontex agents, for an initial period of four years, as set out in the framework agreement reached on New Year’s Eve 2020 between Madrid and London.