THE ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF THE GIBRALTAR-SPAIN BORDER
The ability to rapidly and effectively cross the Gibraltar-Spain border is critical to the economies of both Spain and Gibraltar.
Furthermore, in recent years, Gibraltar has established itself as a popular tourist destination. Every year, around 10 million people visit Gibraltar, the majority of them arrive by land from Spain.
This mutual reliance underscored the significance of ensuring that entry into Spain from Gibraltar, and vice versa, stays as efficient as possible following Brexit.
HOW WILL THINGS CHANGE WHEN GIBRALTAR JOINS THE SCHENGEN AREA?
Because of the agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain for Gibraltar, it is probable that the British colony will enter the Schengen Area for passport-free travel, and will now be included in the Schengen Agreement with the other 26 member nations.
The 271,000 residents of Gibraltar’s eight municipalities will have unrestricted mobility to Spain and the other Schengen nations, and all Schengen people will be able to visit Gibraltar without having to show their passports.
However, because the United Kingdom is not and has never been a member of the Schengen Area, British residents will still be needed to pass through passport controls in order to enter Gibraltar.
The deal will be in effect for four years, during which the EU will deploy Frontex border guards at Gibraltar’s land border in order to support the free movement accord.
Spanish Foreign Minister González Laya has also announced that the new agreement between the UK and Spain will require Gibraltar to follow EU fair competition laws. These policies, in areas such as financial policy, the environment, and the labour market, are shared by the other Schengen Agreement countries.
The new Gibraltar UK-Spain agreement places the territory on par with Liechtenstein, which enjoys visa-free travel inside the Schengen Area despite not being a full member of the Schengen Information System
It also implies that Gibraltar’s air and sea ports are now de facto part of the Schengen Area’s external boundaries.
DOES THE UK SUPPORT GIBRALTAR BECOMING A SCHENGEN MEMBER?
The UK is open to Gibraltar joining Schengen to facilitate mobility over the border with Spain.
It is, however, adopting a firm stance on the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction. One of the most contentious issues in the discussions has been how immigration would be handled if Gibraltar is admitted to the zone, as its crossings will be regarded part of the Schengen Area’s external borders.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed “enthusiasm” on Twitter about the new agreement regarding a post-Brexit Gibraltar, while Dominic Raab, the former UK Foreign Secretary, described the agreement as a “political framework” that will lead to a separate treaty with the EU after a 6-month transition period.
He went on to say that “both parties are dedicated to minimising the impact of the Brexit Transition Period’s end on Gibraltar, and in particular to ensuring border fluidity, which is obviously in the best interests of the people living on both sides.”