The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia this afternoon participated in a meeting of the Contact Group between the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the UK. The meeting opened as the European Council (ECOFIN) authorised the start of negotiations between the UK and the EU on the future relationship of Gibraltar with the European Union.
This UK-CoR Contact Group was set up in order to continue a dialogue at a regional, devolved and local level between areas of the EU and their UK counterparts after departure from the European Union.
The meeting was the first which offered the possibility of attending in person, but given the ongoing travel difficulties as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic most of the representatives on the UK side chose to participate virtually. It included regional leaders from different parts of the UK and the EU, the European Commission and the European Parliament as well as academics from the London School of Economics, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford.
In his contribution, the Deputy Chief Minister said that the Council had approved the Commission’s mandate which meant that formal negotiations were expected to open shortly. Dr Garcia stressed that the Government of Gibraltar was totally committed to an outcome based on the New Year’s Eve Agreement which had been concluded together with the United Kingdom and Spain. He made the point that preparations were also in hand for the eventuality of a no negotiated outcome.
The Deputy Chief Minister explained that the people of Gibraltar and the people of the neighbouring region were now expectant about the start of the process given the important cross-border economic links that had developed during our time of EU membership. Gibraltar was after a bespoke, tailor-made solution, in keeping with our particular geographical, economic, social and political circumstances, he said.
This was the last meeting of the Contact Group this year. Its current mandate extends until the summer of 2022 and the feedback from this meeting will inform its possible renewal and extension going forward.