Spain's foreign affairs minister, Arancha González Laya, announced on Thursday that a last-minute agreement in principle has been made with the UK regarding Gibraltar.
Arrangements for the land border between Spain and Gibraltar were excluded from the post-Brexit deal struck last week. González Laya said at a press conference on Thursday that the agreement, which will ensure that the border is kept open, allows the application of EU policies to Gibraltar, such as the Schengen Agreement and a customs regime regarding the movement of goods. In addition, there are fiscal, environmental and social fair competition measures.
"We have broken down barriers in order to build an area of shared prosperity. Schengen will be applied to Gibraltar, with Spain being responsible." The text of the agreement, González Laya added, has already been sent to the European authorities so that they can draw up guidelines for the final agreement, which she hoped will be within six months.
There had been six months of "intense work" and "a couple of sleepless nights" in reaching the agreement. She had sought to avoid "the only hard Brexit" in the whole of the EU. All this had been achieved, the minister explained, "without prejudice to the inalienable claims" to sovereignty of Gibraltar that the Spanish government has as well as to those of the British government; "these have been safeguarded".