Gibraltar, La Linea and the Campo share a common interest in seeking a soft Brexit, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said this week as he announced plans to pay his first formal visit to La Linea on May 24, describing the city as “Gibraltar’s best friend”.
The Chief Minister was addressing guests at a seminar organised in La Linea by Apymell, the city’s small business association, during which he set out Gibraltar’s position on Brexit and its hopes to turn the challenge of leaving the EU into an opportunity for improved cross-border relations.
Mr Picardo spoke of how Gibraltar and La Linea, together with other Campo municipalities, were in unison on the need to put people first and guarantee border fluidity.
That was a message that was also resonating at grassroots level, he added, where organisations such as the Cross-Frontier Group and Ascteg were already actively strengthening cross-border ties and setting an example for politicians to follow.
The Chief Minister repeated earlier statements on the Brexit transition, arguing that should Spain seek to have Gibraltar excluded from efforts to soften the blow of withdrawal, Spanish workers and other EU nationals could be among those most negatively impacted.
“We are all jointly implicated in this and in ensuring it turns out well for the region,” he said.
“A hard, bad Brexit for Gibraltar is a hard, bad Brexit for La Linea and the Campo de Gibraltar.”
Gibraltar, the UK and Spain must work together to ensure a “soft, good Brexit” for the region and everyone who lives and works here.
Listening in the audience was La Linea mayor Juan Franco, PSOE politicians past and present including former mayor Gemma Araujo and San Roque mayor Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, and Fernando Moran, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ man in the Campo.
Also present were businessmen and labour representatives from both sides of the border, including key members of the Cross-Frontier Group and Ascteg.
Mr Picardo steered clear of any detailed insight into ongoing talks about Gibraltar’s future outside the EU, other than to say that these were not bilateral discussions about the Rock’s status and that nothing could be agreed with Gibraltar’s consent.
In a wide-ranging talk, he spoke about the possibility of enhanced use of the airport but made clear there was no prospect of Gibraltar ceding any control over the terminal.
He reflected too on recent news of changes to fiscal regimes in Ceuta and Melilla in a bid to attract gaming companies, although he suggested few firms were likely to uproot their business to the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Conversely, helping La Linea with similar measures could ultimately complement Gibraltar’s activities and generate shared cross-border prosperity.