The Government confirms that no new agreement has been concluded on freedom of movement across the border for frontier workers. The announcement made is about administrative arrangements to give effect to the commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement.
The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement provided for the recognition of the enduring rights of British Citizens, including Gibraltarians, in the European Union and of European Union nationals in the United Kingdom and in Gibraltar. This is not specific to Gibraltar. It applies across the board between the United Kingdom and the European Union everywhere and the rights are reciprocal. This is what the UK negotiated for the whole of the UK and Gibraltar upon our departure from the EU.
In fact, the enduring right of residence, and to work for those already living or working in the UK, including Gibraltar and including all frontier workers everywhere is also applicable to Swiss and EEA nationals which includes people from Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. It also applies the other way round to Gibraltarians and British Citizens living or working in all those countries.
This was part of the wholesale architecture agreed at the time for exiting the European Union.
These arrangements should not be confused with the future relationship between the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and the European Union which is something different and which includes a cross-border mobility proposal for everyone which is still under discussion.
The Government has already made it clear many times that it does not intend to impose any new conditions for European Union, European Economic Area and Swiss nationals to be able to enter Gibraltar. In the same way as in the United Kingdom, there will be a period of grace from 1 January 2021 until 1 July 2021. However, this position will be kept under review precisely in the light of ongoing negotiations to agree a new border fluidity regime for all with the European Union.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “I am very happy that we have been able to finalise this important, reciprocal part of the work that the Withdrawal Agreement requires. This is part of giving certainty to the people who were ALREADY exercising EU rights at the time of withdrawal. It has nothing to do with the future.”
Commenting on the statement from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Picardo added: “Seeing as Mr. Azopardi is being fully and continuously briefed on these matters, I can only speculate about why he would choose to try to misrepresent this matter to stir people’s views at a time when we are all working closely to achieve the best deal possible for the future. If Mr Azopardi genuinely has any confusion about these reports he could have reached – and can still reach – out to us as he has been doing at the briefings instead of try to grab a misleading headline. I am happy to speak to him about these issues if he wishes. These matters related to the whole Withdrawal Agreement and not the bits that relate to Gibraltar geographically – but generally to all workers exercising pre-existing EU rights. Now is not the time for political games or fake politics. We are all – and we all need to be – on the same side, Gibraltar’s!”