Picardo Briefs Azopardi On Spanish Foreign Minister Meeting

Earlier today the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo briefed the Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi on the meeting held with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya yesterday.

A statement from the GSD follows below:

That meeting is to be welcomed in principle. 

Mr Azopardi said: “It is clear from what has been said in public that that meeting touched on issues relating to the MOUs, Withdrawal Agreement as well as discussions relating to the future possible relationship with the EU. It is well-known that we have had our differences with the Government in respect of some aspects of the Agreements entered into so far. It is important to remain vigilant in any future discussions to ensure bad or unsafe agreements are not reached. In that context while Mrs Laya has said some positive things her marked insistence of emphasis in referring to the UK as her negotiating counterpart is unhelpful and well removed from the practical reality that nothing can be agreed without the support of the Government and people of Gibraltar. 

That aside we recognise that the next few months bring challenges and opportunities for all sides and for the EU itself. It is an opportunity to recalibrate and secure a new relationship with the EU and a respectful, modern, enduring relationship with our direct European neighbours. That can be done if all sides recognise the fundamental realities and that no agreements can be reached without the support of the people of Gibraltar. 

There will, no doubt, be delicate discussions in the next few months about a possible future relationship. There are potential pitfalls for all parties along the way but also great opportunities if there is a willingness to be bold, imaginative and progressive in a way that respects our rights as a people. The Chief Minister and I have agreed to keep in contact with each other on these issues as matters develop. The Opposition is not involved in any of these discussions but as I have said before the Opposition would, in the right circumstances, be willing to meaningfully work together with the Government on matters of major public interest for Gibraltar if that is more likely to secure better outcomes for our people. Beyond COVID it is clear that the future relationship with the EU is the biggest challenge on the horizon for Gibraltar.”