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Spain’s foreign minister calls for UK action on Gibraltar agreement

Spain's foreign minister on Monday said that the 'ball is in the UK's court' regarding what will happen to Gibraltar post-Brexit. The fate of the small British outpost at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula has been in flux since voters chose to leave the EU. In Gibraltar, 96% voted 'stay' in the 2016 Brexit referendum. A preliminary agreement aimed to prevent the creation of hard borders isolating the territory, colloquially known as 'The Rock,' was achieved on Dec. 31, 2020. However, complex negotiations regarding Gibraltar's borders have now extended into their third year. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told the press on Monday that Spain has put a 'global agreement on the table' to establish a 'shared prosperity zone' between Gibraltar and the surrounding area. While acknowledging the UK's 'constructive spirit,' Albares stressed the necessity of bilateral cooperation for an agreement and expressed Spain's hopes for the UK's approval of the deal 'as soon as possible.' A key point of contention between the negotiating parties revolves around the administration of the border. Under Spain's proposal, Gibraltar would remain part of the Schengen Area with Spanish agents overseeing the border. However, the UK has advocated for the EU border agency, Frontex, to assume this role. Despite Gibraltar's population of only 34,000 residents, around 15,000 workers commute across the border daily, according to the Cross Frontier Group. Gibraltar has been a contentious point in Anglo-Spanish relations since the early 18th century. Last week, Conservative MP Sir Robert Neil emphasized to the UK Parliament that a treaty agreement on Gibraltar should be the Foreign Office's top priority.

Source: Anadolu Agency