The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia has said that the inclusion of Clause 24 in their negotiating guidelines by the European Council was a shameful betrayal of the 96% of Gibraltar that voted to remain in the European Union.
Dr Garcia made these comments in an address to students attending Bayside and Westside Schools and the College of Further Education.
The address followed a presentation delivered by the group of students who visited the EU institutions last autumn in a trip which was organised by the Gibraltar in Europe Group.
They are the fourth group to have gone so far and were clearly impressed by what they saw and the people that they had an opportunity to engage with.
The group of students were Christopher Edwards, James Caruana, Nikhil Nagrani, David Garcia, Henry Archer, Louis Chincotta, Melanie Trinidad, Nuhaila Mkerref, Sanya Chugani, Mariam Pinto, Lauren Lopez and Josephine Cassaglia.
Dr Garcia praised the group saying that the feedback from Brussels was that they had asked probing questions in different meetings and had proved to be excellent ambassadors for Gibraltar.
Dr Garcia explained the value that the Government attached, when first elected in2011,to taking Gibraltar’s case to the EU and bringing Europe to Gibraltar.
“In line with that policy, these annual educational visits were organised and the Gibraltar representation in Brussels was significantly upgraded. The irony is that enthusiastic Europeans were now leading on our departure from the European Union,” he said.
Dr Garcia explained how the Government had left no stone unturned in its efforts to put across the Gibraltar point of view to decision-makers in Brussels and in London.
“In the EU this included the different Member States of the European Union, a large number of key Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission itself. In the United Kingdom it included every major political party from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish National Party and Democratic Unionists. There was also positive engagement with the United Kingdom Government itself through the framework of the Joint Ministerial Council, and also with all the Devolved Administrations, with the Crown Dependencies and the other UK Overseas Territories.”
He also went over the issues which relate to the border, access to the Single Market, access to the UK market and future trade agreements between the United Kingdom and third parties. He outlined the commitments that had been secured from the United Kingdom Government going forward.
Dr Garcia concluded that the EU would continue to be there once the UK and Gibraltar have left it and there would still be a need to have a relationship with it.