The Government welcomes that the Opposition agrees with the Government that we need a positive agreement on a future relationship with the EU and one that protects our sovereignty, jurisdiction and control. This is precisely what the Government has been tirelessly working on for a very long time now, particularly with regards to border fluidity.
What is unacceptable, however, is that the Opposition continues to display such a fundamental misunderstanding on how the Withdrawal Agreement works. As it did two years ago, and it does so again now, the Opposition accuses the Government for having “given away enduring border fluidity for Spanish frontier workers” beyond 31 December 2020 for “nothing enduring in return for Gibraltarians resident here”. That is false and misconceived in entirely elementary terms.
The Government gave nothing away. Those workers who are frontier workers on 31 December 2020 enjoy enduring rights because that is how the Withdrawal Agreement works for all EU citizens residing or working anywhere in the UK on 31 December 2020 and for all UK nationals residing or working anywhere in the EU on 31 December 2020. It is nothing specific to Gibraltar. On the contrary, it is the result of the overarching agreement reached by the UK and the EU for everyone. That regime is a snapshot of the position on 31 December 2020 and merely protects all individuals, whether UK or EU nationals, who are exercising an EU right at the end of the transitional period by either residing or working in their respective territories. What is referred to as “stock”.
Therefore, no UK national residing anywhere in the UK on 31 December 2020 and no EU national residing anywhere in the EU on 31 December 2020 will have those enduring rights because they are not exercising EU rights on that cut-off date. The same applies to all Gibraltarians resident in Gibraltar. Had it been otherwise, the UK might just as well not have left the EU!!
Similarly, that enduring regime on frontier workers does not apply to any Spanish national seeking to enter the Gibraltar labour market as from 1 January 2021. What is referred to as “flow”. They are not covered either.
The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo stated:
“I do not know how many times I need to explain to the Opposition that the least they owe the Gibraltarian public is honesty in the analyses they put forward. It is one thing to have different opinions. It is quite another to misrepresent to the people of Gibraltar what the legal position is, particularly when its meaning is so obvious. It is unclear to me whether they simply do not understand or whether they are merely seeking to create political uncertainty in an attempt to pursue their own political agenda. My Government will not be distracted by such misconceived statements and will continue its hard work to deliver solutions that protect our sovereignty, jurisdiction and control. Despite this, because I believe this is a time for unity and not for division or useless political point scoring, I will continue to brief the Opposition on progress of the discussions in coming weeks.
More generally, the Government remains very keen to see an agreement that creates greater prosperity for everyone based on mutual guarantees and mutual respect, without any one of the parties having to cross their red lines. Unfortunately, if Spain wants to win the sovereignty argument by the front or the back door, there will be no agreement. That will be bad for everyone, but it will not be Gibraltar’s fault. Neutral solutions can deliver positive results. Partisan proposals will lead nowhere. Gibraltar’s representatives remain optimistic that with good will we can prosper. We remain enthusiastic about doing the work necessary to deliver agreement. We will see whether there is a desire to reach an agreement on the Spanish side, or just a desire to try to pressure us at this time, as has been the case for the past sixty years, and ignore the difficulties that will arise to Spanish, EU and British citizens from no deal”.