Confirms that customs in Ceuta and Melilla will open in January in an “orderly and gradual” manner, as was done with people
He admits that “there are still commercial operations blocked” by Algeria and says that Brussels is dealing with the issue
MADRID, Jan. 1 (.) –
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, has made it clear that both Spain and the EU are prepared in case an agreement with the United Kingdom on the future relationship with Gibraltar is not finally reached, stressing that it is now London Who has the last word.
In an interview with Europa Press, Albares has once again highlighted the urgency for London and Brussels to successfully complete the negotiation for the new agreement that seeks to cover the relationship with the Rock after Brexit.
The minister recalled that two years have passed since the “agreement of principles” that Spain and the United Kingdom sealed on December 31, 2020, on which the negotiation that Brussels and London are now holding is based and that ultimately seeks the creation of an area of shared prosperity between the Rock and the Campo de Gibraltar.
This means that “we have been negotiating what was already more or less established for two years and it has been many years since Brexit”, he highlighted. “We find ourselves in this situation for a sovereign and legitimate reason, which Spain respects”, as was the referendum in June 2016 by which the British decided to leave the EU, he has limited.
In this sense, Albares has claimed that Spain and the EU have put “a global, reasonable and balanced agreement on the table, so that this zone of shared prosperity can be created throughout the Campo de Gibraltar”.
“Obviously we cannot be in this situation forever, the United Kingdom has to say clearly if it wants this agreement, which is global and touches all aspects of what the relationship between Spain and the United Kingdom has to be with respect to Gibraltar, or if it does not want it. “, he has summarized, in line with the position that he has been maintaining in recent weeks and that he also exposed during the visit of his British counterpart, James Cleverly, on December 14.
“In that case, obviously another decision will have to be made,” he acknowledged, without wanting to enter into deadlines after being asked how long negotiations could continue. “Spain does not want a ‘no agreement’ scenario”, he assured, hence the fact that he has raised this proposal that has made it clear that the Government is willing to “sign tomorrow” itself.
PREPARED FOR ANY SCENARIO
But he has also warned that “the Government of Spain and the EU, which is ultimately the one who will make the agreement with the United Kingdom, are prepared for any scenario”, including that of not achieving a satisfactory result, like the Gibraltarian Government. and the British have already made it known, even a few weeks ago carrying out a simulation of what would happen in practical terms.
However, he has assured that he observes “on the other side a constructive attitude as Spain has had from the beginning” to achieve this agreement, something that was also revealed after his meeting with Cleverly, in which both showed their firm will to successfully complete the negotiation.
Regarding the proposal on the table, he has insisted that it proposes “reasonable solutions” to the main issues. Thus, he recalled, “the disappearance of the Gate is expected, because what we want is maximum fluidity in the movement of people”, in addition to the “joint use of the airport because what we want is to be able to benefit people as much as possible” from area.
It is also sought that “there is a balance in the conditions” on both sides “in tax matters, that there can be a movement of goods without there being a distortion of competition in the single market or without illegal traffic, especially the tobacco”, among other issues.
THE RAN WITH MOROCCO, AS EXPECTED
On the other hand, the minister has confirmed that the plans for the expected High-Level Meeting with Morocco, the first since 2015, to be held in the last week of January or the first week of February, as announced by the Foreign Minister. Moroccan, Nasser Burita.
The summit “is going to mean a new impetus in a bilateral relationship that is being extraordinarily beneficial for both,” he claimed, emphasizing that trade between the two countries has increased by almost 30% this year and that the arrivals of immigrants from Morocco have decreased, this being the only European migratory route that does so.
It has also ratified that it is intended to reopen the Melilla customs and open the new one in Ceuta before the summit, as was already indicated during the meeting with Burita on November 24 in Barcelona. As the minister explained to Europa Press, the will of the two countries is that “it be an orderly and gradual opening.”
“There are images from the past that we do not want to see again,” he stressed, ruling out that the so-called “atypical trade” reappears. The idea, explained the minister, is to act as has been done with the passage of people. “It has to be a gradual opening precisely so as not to fall back into the mistakes of the past,” he remarked.
The land borders with Morocco reopened on May 15, although only to citizens of the European Union and with permission to circulate in Schengen territory. As of May 31, a second phase began that allowed access to “legally recognized cross-border workers”, without the situation for the rest of Moroccans having been resolved for now.
LENDING HAND TO ALGERIA
As for Algeria, the minister has insisted that the Government maintains “its hand is outstretched” and is confident that the relationship can be redirected given the friendship between the two peoples. Spain wants a relationship like the one it has with its other neighbours, “based on mutual respect, mutual benefit, non-interference in internal affairs and that is guided by friendship.”
Albares has emphasized that Algeria is a “reliable supplier that always respects its international contracts” in regards to gas, and this has been demonstrated after the outbreak of the diplomatic crisis last March, but has acknowledged that “there are still trade operations that remain blocked” between the two countries following Algiers’ decision to suspend the Friendship Treaty in June.
“Spain has not done anything to block these commercial operations,” said the minister, who immediately traveled to Brussels after the decision in Algiers to request the support of the European Commission. “Every time we detect a blocked operation, we continue to send it to the European Commission because commercial policy is a common commercial policy,” he specified.
“It is the EU that has the instruments, both for dialogue and for response, and there are contacts between the European and Algerian authorities,” added Albares regarding the actions that could be taken against Algeria for its actions under the Agreement. of Association between the Twenty-seven and the Maghreb country.
Thus, he has hoped that trade “will resume as soon as possible” since it is “mutually beneficial” and that the situation can be redirected “through dialogue”, stressing that in this matter it is Brussels and not the Government that she has to act because she is “the one with the instruments to do so”.