Gibraltar deal hinges on use of airport, says Spain's foreign minister

  • World
  • Sunday, 10 Dec 2023

FILE PHOTO: The Gibraltarian and Britain's Union Jack flags fly at the border between Spain and Gibraltar, January 1, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - A deal over the post-Brexit status of the British territory of Gibraltar depends on agreement over use of the airport, Spain's foreign minister, Jose Manuel Albares, said in an interview published on Sunday.

The status of Gibraltar and how to police the border with Spain have been points of contention since Britain voted in 2016 to leave the European Union. The UK, Spain and the EU are due to hold further talks on the matter on Wednesday.

Albares said that Spain has presented the UK with a proposal that includes free movement of people and goods, the removal of the physical border between Gibraltar and Spain and use of the airport.

"It is up to the United Kingdom to decide whether it wants this or the simple application of European legislation," Albares told Spain's El Pais newspaper.

"To me it seems like progress that flights can come from Spanish airports and other European countries, promoting tourism and relations. The airport has to be in the agreement."

Britain's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment on Sunday.

Gibraltar, an enclave at the southern tip of Spain, has been under British rule since the 18th century but was excluded from the Brexit deal reached between Britain and the EU.

Spain, Britain and the European Union agreed on Dec. 31, 2020, hours before Britain's full exit from the bloc, that Gibraltar would remain part of EU agreements, such as the Schengen Area, and Spain would police the port and the airport, pending a lasting solution.

Spain ceded the outpost, famed for its towering rock, to Britain in 1713 but has long called for its return.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by David Goodman)

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