Gibraltar’s Brexit deal could be passed “before the end of the year”, officials have suggested. London and Brussels negotiators have expressed their hopes an agreement could be reached before the beginning of 2023.
Talks on the future status of Gibraltar have been ongoing since this was not included in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, signed towards the end of 2020.
An official close to the talks has suggested the situation is “complex”, but believes an agreement is there to be made.
Pascual Navarro, Gibraltar’s State Secretary of State for the EU, said he is confident this could be reached – and possibly even signed – “before the end of the year”.
Speaking to The Diplomat in Spain, he said: “Everything is already on the table and the negotiation has to be concluded.
“We must indeed reach an agreement, logically before the end of the year; that is what we are all hoping for.”
Mr Navarro added “there is no point blocked” in the negotiations, and Brussels has placed a proposal “on the table”.
This, he said, “is a long and complex text because it affects all aspects of relations with Gibraltar”.
Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo earlier this year stressed the Rock’s “commitment to Britain is unshakable”.
He insisted any agreement must prioritise “our self-determination”, describing this as “unquestionable”.
Mr Navarro said that on the technical level, there was still “much to discuss”, suggesting that on the broader ethos of an agreement, London and Brussels are almost – if not already – there.
The EU Secretary noted: “Now the last stage of the negotiation is beginning, and that will take a little time, but the proposal has already been sufficiently explained and we are confident that the negotiation will progress quickly.”
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Despite apparent optimism among EU and UK negotiators, others are critical of the direction in which talks appear to be heading.
Former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib earlier this year told Express.co.uk: “All the focus is on Northern Ireland but Gibraltar too is being ripped away from the United Kingdom.
“Unless our Government wakes up to that danger it will be subsumed by Spain and the EU without even a murmur.
“Gibraltar is not part of the United Kingdom, it is not riven with a sectarian divide and it overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU.”
He added: “None of that means, however, that it should cease to be a British Overseas Territory without its people’s consent. That is what is happening right now.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.