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Gibraltar Chief Minister: "We are examining Schengen membership"

January 26, 2017 11:30 AM

Open Britain & British Influence event on impacts on Brexit on Gibraltar with Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Wednesday 25 January 2017, British Influence, 33 ST James's Square, London

On 25 January, the pro-EU organisations Open Britain and British Influence hosted a joint-event on the impact of Brexit on Gibraltar, where the Gibraltarian Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, gave the key-note address. Gemma Vasquez, Chair of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses also gave remarks. The event came a day ahead of a joint-publication on Gibraltar and Brexit by Open & British Influence, which can be found here: https://www.docdroid.net/Rcpr6wK/british-influence-and-open-britain-brexit-and-gibraltar-briefing.pdf.html

Chief Minister Picardo outlined that although Gibraltar had overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and did not want Brexit, nevertheless they would now look to make the process of exiting the EU work for them. He noted that "frontier workers" crossing the border from Spain on a daily basis were highly important for the Gibraltar economy and that the neighbouring region of Spain was inextricably interlinked with Gibraltar with the latter providing almost 25% of all employment of the former's workforce. The Chief Minister continued by noting that Gibraltarians were fervent Europeans but at the same time were also passionately British and had no interest in remaining in the EU if this meant joint-sovereignty over the territory with Spain.

In the ensuing question & answer session, the Chief Minister underlined that he would be seeking to make Brexit work and would enter into the negotiations in good faith and with good will. He stated that Gibraltar had been considering and would continue to consider looking into Schengen zone membership if this meant guaranteeing the "fluidity of the border" with Spain. He noted that the micro-states of Monaco and San Marino were all already covered by Schengen, given their own reliance on cross-border activities with much larger neighbours.

Gemma Vasquez of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses reiterated the importance of the fluidity of the border and underscored that 95% of all goods entering Gibraltar crossed the land border with Spain. She noted that if the border with Spain became 'harder' than it already was then this would impact on business and the Gibraltar economy. She added that through the EU, the European Commission had acted as a neutral arbiter on border disputes with Spain and leaving the EU would see this aspect of the relationship change.

Overall, the event was well attended, with media presence by the BBC, including former BBC Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt.