Brexit: Gibraltar may accept Spanish police presence says expert
European sources say they are “confident” officials from Frontex, the EU’s border agency, will be allowed to enforce the bloc’s rules on the Rock. Brussels’ uniformed border force and coast guard will be patrolling the overseas territory, which is set to remain subject to the rule of the Schengen free-travel zone. Gibraltar was not covered in the UK-EU trade and security agreement, leaving it vulnerable to attempts by Spain to encroach on its sovereignty.
But ministers struck an 11th-hour deal on New Year’s Eve with the Spanish government over the post-Brexit future of the Rock.
Under the agreement, Gibraltar could join the Schengen area, a zone that covers 26 European countries without border checks between them.
As an EU member, Spain will be in charge of enforcing border controls as the Rock’s airport and port.
Madrid is likely to call on Frontex border guards to ensure Schengen rules are applied in Gibraltar going forward.
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A source told Express.co.uk: “Frontex can’t work outside the EU without a special agreement between the host country and the EU.
“I think it will happen, but it’s complicated, as always.”
The EU already has separate agreements with Albania and Montenegro to deploy Frontex border guards in their countries.
The Government refused to comment on the claims, instead pointing to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s previous statement that Gibraltar’s “sovereignty is safeguarded”.
After the initial agreement was unveiled on December 31, Mr Raab said: “We remain steadfast in our support for Gibraltar and its sovereignty is safeguarded.
“We have a warm and strong relationship with Spain, and we look forward to building on it.”
It is expected that Frontex border agents will be stationed in Gibraltar for up to four years to oversee the implementation of the new arrangement.
Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez previously claimed Madrid would have the final say on who can enter the Rock, under the agreement.
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She told Spanish newspaper El Pais: “To be able to enter a Gibraltar, which is integrated into the Schengen area, the responsibility for controls will be in Spanish hands – at the port and airport.”
The UK and EU still need to reach a final agreement on the “political framework” that will cover Gibraltar’s post-Brexit future as a separate treaty.
The pact will also cover trade between the Rock and the EU, after it was prevented from being included in the UK-wide agreement by Madrid.
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Spain used the UK’s divorce talks to maintain a stranglehold on Britain’s only overseas outpost attached to the European mainland.
It was granted a veto over any future relationship agreement from being applied to Gibraltar.
During tense negotiations last year, Spanish politicians threatened to transform the Rock into a lorry park in an attempt to seize back control of the territory, which was ceded to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.
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