There are initial signs that patience is running thinner on the time being taken over the talks between the EU and the UK engaging Gibraltar. Spanish Foreign Secretary, Jose Manuel Albares, indicates as much. He said late week the negotiations could not go on indefinitely, despite also saying that “there’s no deadline by which to reach an agreement”.
His statements shows that, if agreement is not reached, then talks will simply be ended, and the consequences of ‘no deal’ will need to be faced. Mr. Albares did not put a date on the talks concluding. His UK counterparts have been more explicit in this regard, suggesting that 31st March 2022 may be an end date.
EXTENSION INDICATES ADVANCES
Temporary arrangements over Gibraltar, following Brexit, have again been extended for three months beyond the 31st December 2021. It signals that some advances must have been made in the ongoing negotiations, and that optimism reigns that agreement can be reached, otherwise any prolongation would be pointless.
There is no doubt that noises coming out from all participants are positive, not least the reference by all to ‘constructive’ progress being made, and to the shared commitment to the 2020 Political Framework by both the UK and Spain. However, that commitment is not accepted by EU negotiators.
The EU mandate, as said by each of the UK, Spain, and Gibraltar, goes beyond the parameters set out in that Framework. It seems that the difference in position may be a difficult hurdle to surmount, that time constraints delimit the ability to overcome.
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