WISDOM MUST RULE IN A ‘NO DEAL’

If there is ‘no deal’ between the EU and the UK over Gibraltar, the Government must carefully consider the adverse effects on Gibraltar of blindly sticking to the principle of ‘reciprocity’, by applying overly strict entry and exit controls at the border. That must be so despite that ‘reciprocity’ is a commonly accepted principle in international relations.

The last thing we should want is ‘to cut our nose to spite our face’. Our Government must act wisely to ensure that any measures it takes do not cause us avoidable harm. It is that wisdom that must be driving the desire to keep talking to reach a ‘deal’, and our side of the equation should not be sacrificed, if there is ‘no deal’.

It must, or should, take decisions on the grounds of what is best, not necessarily by a pointless application of the principle of ‘reciprocity’. Prejudices must be put aside to ensure that measures taken here are those that best suit our own interests. We must be selfish. We should do all that is in our power to facilitate cross-border access to all.

THE ‘NO DEAL’ SCENE

There is no better summary of what will happen if there is ‘no deal’ than that provided by the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister in the booklet “Guidance to Citizens”, recently published by the GSLP-Liberal Government (Booklet).

Any ‘deal’ would be contained in a treaty to be entered between the EU and the UK over Gibraltar (treaty). They say,” Until this treaty is negotiated and until it enters into force Gibraltar will be treated as a third-country with respect to the EU for all intents and purposes.”

That has not fully happened yet because, as they go on to say, “the full effect of this is currently tempered by a number of time-limited bridging measures which govern Gibraltar’s relationship with Spain in specific areas.”

Time limits on those are soon coming up. The hope is that they will be extended whilst any talks aimed at leading to the treaty continue.

FRONTIER WORKER BORDER CONTROLS

We are told in the Booklet, “that if ‘reciprocity’ is applied, the Government would insist that all frontier workers fulfil the same conditions as those which are imposed under EU law on residents of Gibraltar crossing into the Schengen area at the border with Spain.”

Surely, it is us who need and benefit from those workers? The wisdom of making life difficult for frontier workers, who are needed here, is questionable, therefore. We would be self-harming without the possibility of any gain, as the likelihood of the EU changing a position at the border, which it is obliged by its laws to impose, is impractical and inconceivable.

Irrespective of whatever regime must be imposed at the border under EU law, surely, Gibraltar should want to facilitate that which is in its own best interests, by not imposing added hurdles in the way of frontier workers.

It is, surely, insufficient that the Government should be advising that “Frontier workers who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar are encouraged to discuss any anticipated difficulties with employers in advance so that the effect of any delays can be mitigated to the maximum extent possible. This could involve structuring shift patterns in order to avoid peak crossing times.”

The Government should surely be taking measures to ease, as much as possible, any burden that ‘no deal’ would bring on these workers. In that way it would be benefitting Gibraltar and its economy.

VISITOR BORDER CONTROLS

The same self-harm would come about if those same border controls were to be imposed by Gibraltar on any visitor, tourist, coming into or leaving Gibraltar. Surely, we would want to make that passage as easy as possible to encourage as many people as possible to come to Gibraltar.

In that way we would be supporting our economy hugely, and in turn our much-needed public finances.

Our elected governments should be, and undoubtedly must be, motivated to govern in a manner which facilitates as much business as possible for our taxis, our shops, our restaurants, and all other businesses for the wider benefit of our economy and in turn our public finances.

A ’DEAL’ IS BEST

Undoubtedly a ‘deal’ is the best way forward. But ‘no deal’ must be dealt with intelligently and keeping constantly in mind what is best for Gibraltar, and not acting emotionally on a ‘tit-for-tat’ basis.

It is undoubtedly reassuring that the Government remains committed to the talks that will hopefully lead to the treaty. There is little doubt that a favourable outcome in those negotiations is what would benefit most people, both in Gibraltar and in the Campo de Gibraltar.

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