Any proposed treaty text between the EU and UK on a future relationship should be published before it is entered into so that there can be a clear public debate on the proposals. Any agreement of principles leading to that draft treaty language should also be published.
The BREXIT referendum happened nearly 6 years ago. Despite the fact that the transition period ended on 31 December 2020 Gibraltar still has no agreement on a permanent relationship. The UK agreed its own deal on a new relationship with the EU before the end of the transition period. Gibraltar still faces uncertainty. To compound the lack of clarity all that has been published so far is a vague 8-page framework on 31 December 2020. In contrast the UK’s own Treaty with the EU is an agreement that extends to more than 1000 pages. The GSD has not seen any document since then and have only had one informal briefing since the end of 2020 (in November 2021).
Momentum was clearly lost in the negotiations for Gibraltar as soon as the opportunity was missed to land a safe and beneficial agreement in tandem with the UK. 17 months on Gibraltar has still not seen any new agreement emerge and suffers an increasing backdrop of uncertainty with a fragile status quo depending on Spanish goodwill. This is clearly an undesirable state of affairs. Gibraltar needs legal certainty. Delays not only cause political and economic uncertainty but also affect people on the ground as we have been seeing in recent weeks. It is assumed that there must now be proposals in writing circulating among the delegations although tentative agreements may not, yet, have been reached. People should not be kept in the dark once a settled proposal emerges that is, in principle, acceptable to those negotiating.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “It is important to appreciate that we are at a significant moment in our affairs. We have made clear that we want a safe and beneficial agreement with the EU. But people also need to know what deals are being negotiated in their name and what specifically is on the table before this is entered into given the importance of this moment for Gibraltar’s future. This is essential so that there is clarity instead of speculation on the elements and consequences of any deal. This speculation needs to be dispelled and the draft of any Treaty text published before it is entered into so that everyone knows what’s on the table and can judge that against the prospect of no deal and its consequences. The Government should reassure people that the draft Treaty will be published for public evaluation and debate before it is signed up to.”