The long queues at the frontier today provide a sharp contrast to Mr Picardo’s affirmation this very morning in an interview published by the Chronicle that he expected “Spain to maintain its commitment on fluidity as we have seen until now.” Gibraltar remains at the whim of Spain and all that the Government can do is resort to reciprocal measures because there has been a failure to land safe permanent rights so far and concessions have been made along the way.
The backdrop to the current situation lies in the failure to land safe lasting arrangements with the EU. Despite promises that there would be a status quo of frontier fluidity during Treaty negotiations this ceased for Blue ID card holders some time ago and now measures are being escalated by Spain to complicate free flow at the border further. Seven years after the BREXIT referendum there is still no agreement on lasting arrangements to achieve freedom of movement (mobility) at the frontier even though from time to time the proximity to an Agreement is dangled in front of people.
Years ago during the talks the Government agreed to provide permanent rights of freedom of movement for frontier workers but failed to negotiate equivalent rights for Gibraltar residents. The GSD has been warning about those lost opportunities for some time and now the consequences of those failures are starkly being seen.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “Is the prospect of a permanent Agreement even on the cards or has the Government abandoned any hope of landing this? Only in July Sir Joe Bossano speaking for the entire Government made clear that a permanent agreement was unachievable and that the only Agreement that could be achieved was a four-year deal.
The reality is that this Government has run out of steam and of ideas. Despite repeated promises it has not delivered on achieving a safe and beneficial Agreement. Even though they like to say that they are hawks on the issue of Spain the reality is different. During the process of the negotiations the Government gave rights away for no equivalent rights in return. It entered into a harmful and concessionary Tax Treaty with Spain in 2019 on the basis that we would be taken off the Spanish blacklist and Gibraltar is still on it. If that is the best this GSLP/Libs Government can do then why should they be re-elected. They have had 7 years and have little to show for it despite their protestations.
I do not underestimate the difficulties of achieving a safe and beneficial Agreement with the EU but our policy in Government would be to seek to achieve one. The reality is that this Government have had 7 years and have not done so. Along the way they have given away plenty of things with little equivalent lasting rights for our people. Why back failure again?”