The influential House of Lords EU Select Committee has written to Brexit Secretary David Davis seeking assurances on four key aspects of Brexit as it relates to Gibraltar.
In the letter, which was written by the Chairman of the Committee Lord Boswell of Aynho, Mr Davis is pressed for details in respect of how the UK Government will ensure that transitional arrangements apply to Gibraltar in full.
He called on Mr Davis to explain the UK Government’s position on the European Council’s statement regarding the applicability of such arrangements to the Rock.
The Committee further seeks assurances in respect of maintaining fluidity at the Gibraltar-Spain border as well as continued cooperation with the Campo de Gibraltar.
The Committee says that, given that there are over 13,000 frontier workers in Gibraltar, any hardening of the border would damage both Gibraltar and the neighbouring Spanish region of the Campo de Gibraltar, and would be ‘unnecessary and counterproductive’.
Ensuring that UK-Gibraltar relations are maintained and enhanced post-Brexit is another key policy area that the Committee asks the Government to provide a response on.
In doing so, the Committee flags how 92% of Gibraltar’s economic activity within the EU single market is with the UK.
In its letter, the Committee welcomes the recent agreement of measures to promote closer UK-Gibraltarian cooperation up to 2020.
But, it calls on the UK Government to set out how it will take forward the commitment to a post-2020 framework based on shared high-standard regulation post-Brexit, and to ensure Gibraltar benefits from post-Brexit trade deals.
Finally, the Committee seeks a guarantee that Gibraltar will have a voice in the Brexit process.
In line with this, the Committee reminds the UK Government that it has a moral responsibility to ensure Gibraltar’s voice is heard, and its interests respected, throughout the Brexit process.
“What reassurance can you give us, and the people of Gibraltar, that you will continue to fulfil this moral responsibility, both during the Brexit negotiations and beyond?” questions Lord Boswell in the letter.
“We reiterate that the Government of Gibraltar has placed its trust in the UK to negotiate on its behalf and secure a Brexit that meets Gibraltar’s needs,” he states.
Additionally, the Committee calls on Mr Davis to reassert the Government’s commitment to never enter negotiations that would see the sovereignty of Gibraltar change against the will of its people.
The letter follows a Committee visit to Gibraltar earlier this month by way of follow up to its March 2017 Brexit: Gibraltar inquiry, where the Committee met key interlocutors including the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, members of the Parliament of Gibraltar Brexit Committee, representatives of business and the cross-frontier group, and port, airport, police and customs officials.
The Committee’s letter was welcomed by the GSD Opposition who, in a statement, described the document as “supportive and welcome”.
“It is important at this crucial time in the Brexit negotiations to have the support and pressure from UK Parliamentarians on the UK Government,” GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said.
“This can only help us in our efforts to ensure that beneficial transitional arrangements and lasting agreements beyond 2020 can be reached to allow us to negotiate the consequences of Brexit.”
“The GSD is grateful to the Committee for all their work.”