Gibraltar to join EU Schengen border zone, Spain says

British overseas territory will be part of free-travel area

Brexit Briefing: The end of the transition period
Leer en Español

Gibraltar’s border with Spain will remain open following the end of the Brexit transition period after the UK and Spain agreed a draft 11th-hour deal.

The British territory on the southern tip of the Spanish mainland will be part of the free-travel Schengen area.

Spain, as an EU representative, will be responsible for enforcing Schengen rules in Gibraltar, Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said.

Madrid and London had been negotiating how to police the land border between Spain and Gibraltar, which was excluded from the last-minute exit deal reached between Britain and the European Union on Christmas Eve.

Ms Gonzalez Laya said her government had worried that the only “hard Brexit” would be in Gibraltar, adding that people living there “can breathe a sigh of relief”.

Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s leader, said the deal had been reached “almost at the last minute” and the effects of a hard Brexit had been “averted”.

He warned, however, that tough negotiations were still ahead in drawing up the treaty, including jurisdiction issues and import duties.

“There will be complexity to come,” he told a news conference, adding that “we may end up with a deal on the [free] movement of people but not goods”. 

Boris Johnson welcomed the deal, adding: “The UK has always been, and will remain, totally committed to the protection of the interests of Gibraltar and its British sovereignty.”

Pedro Sanchez, the prime minister of Spain, said the deal will “allow us to remove barriers and move towards an area of shared prosperity”. 

Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, said the draft agreement would now be sent to Brussels, with the European Commission and London to start negotiations to turn it into a formal treaty.

Ms Gonzalez Laya said she expected the treaty to be signed within six months. 

Mr Raab said: “All sides are committed to mitigating the effects of the end of the transition period on Gibraltar, and in particular ensure border fluidity, which is clearly in the best interests of the people living on both sides.”

Without Thursday’s agreement, tens of thousands of Spaniards and Gibraltarians who cross every day would have been forced to go through checks and passport stamping

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, 96 per cent of voters in Gibraltar supported remaining in the EU.

The Rock’s population of 34,000 faced the possibility of entering the new year with tight controls on what for decades has been an open border with the bloc through Spain.

Much was riding on the outcome for Gibraltar, which needs access to the EU market for its economy.

More than 15,000 people live in Spain and work in the British territory, making up about 50 per cent of its labour market. 

The territory was ceded to Britain in 1713, but Spain maintains its claim to sovereignty over it. That dispute has occasionally flared.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in