The first set of meetings of the committees established under the Withdrawal Agreement on the departure of the UK and Gibraltar from the European Union, which took place in the headquarters of the port of Algeciras yesterday Wednesday 26th and today Thursday 27th February, have now concluded.
The orderly departure of Gibraltar from the EU was secured through the Gibraltar Protocol to the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, the four Memoranda of Understanding and an International Tax Treaty. These MoUs and the committees established under them largely come to an end on 31 December 2020 in line with the transitional period.
Three technical committees were established by that framework and all three have met this week for the first time.
The three are:
Committee on Citizen’s Rights which met 26 February;
Committee on Police and Customs Cooperation which met on 26 February;
Technical Coordinating Commission on the Environment, which met today 27th February.
The working language of the committees was English, for Gibraltar and the UK, and Spanish, for Spain, with the provision of a simultaneous translation service.
The three meetings have taken place in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation. All the participants stressed their commitment to give effect to the MoUs, including that on citizens’ and worker’s rights. It will be recalled that the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement protects the acquired rights of EU workers in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar as well as the rights of UK and Gibraltarian workers in the European Union. This is reciprocal.
In the above context, it was also agreed that it was important for the relevant competent authorities to correctly identify who those EU and UK/Gibraltarian workers are in order to ensure that their enduring rights can be properly preserved. These rights are preserved by the main Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU and apply across the EU and the whole of the UK for all British nationals in the EU and all EU nationals in the UK and Gibraltar as at 31st December 2020.
There has also been positive progress in the technical coordination of police and customs cooperation with the objective of combating criminal activity in the area.
The first meeting of the Technical Coordinating Commission on the Environment took place this morning. This purpose of this commission is to provide a framework for dialogue and the exchange of information about matters related to the environment in the area.
NEXT CHAIR OF ENVIRONMENT COMMISSION : GIBRALTARIAN DR LIESEL MESILIO
There were six representatives from the Government of Gibraltar, led by the Attorney General Michael Llamas, and one representative for the United Kingdom Government. The seven Spanish participants were divided between the central Government, the regional Government of Andalucia and the Mancomunidad de Municipios. The actual formal representatives alternated depending on who was competent for the subject matter of the discussion.
The commission has agreed that the chair for the first period of five months will be Mrs Ana Maria Corredera Quintana, of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Junta de Andalucia.
It was also agreed that the chair for the second period of five months will be the Chief Scientist and CEO of the Department of the Environment of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, Dr Liesl Mesilio.
NEXT MEETINGS : IN GIBRALTAR
Importantly, it has been agreed that the next scheduled set of meeting of each of the committees will take place in Gibraltar.
NOT NEGOTIATIONS ON THE FUTURE RELATIONSHIP
It is important to emphasise that this was not a discussion about the future relationship between Gibraltar and the European Union, despite some erroneous political comment and reporting to the contrary in this respect.
PICARDO : PLEASED THE WORK HAS NOW COMMENCED
The Chief Minister of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “I am very pleased that the work of these committees has now commenced and that the Gibraltar team has reported to me that they found their counterparts respectful, positive and engaging. There is good work to be done in these areas and we look forward to continuing in the spirit in which the meetings have commenced and to improving cooperation and the building of trust in the months left before the end of the year in which these committees will operate.”