"This is our country": Gibraltar strikes back after Spain claims it will have the final say on who enters the territory after the Brexit deal
- Prime Minister Fabian Picardo said shortly today: "This is our country."
- Madrid's top diplomat said her government will monitor cross-border travel
- The dispute comes just two days after an 11-hour post-Brexit deal was struck
- Integrates Gibraltar into the passport-free Schengen zone of the EU in order to avert hard borders
Gibraltar has put down Spain's claim to the final say on who enters British territory, setting the stage for more sovereignty dispute.
Prime Minister Fabian Picardo said tersely today: "This is our country" after Madrid's top diplomat said their government would monitor cross-border travel.
The dispute comes just two days after an agreement to integrate Gibraltar into the EU's passport-free Schengen zone was concluded in the eleventh hour after Brexit in order to avert a hard border.
Nearly 30,000 people were moving back and forth between Spain and Gibraltar every day before the pandemic, half of whom were workers.
Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya stressed that Spain has access to Schengen's database and the UK does not mean that it will now be the police who enter Gibraltar.
Prime Minister Fabian Picardo said tersely today: "This is our country" after Madrid's top diplomat said their government would monitor cross-border travel
Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya emphasized that Spain has access to Schengen's database and the UK does not mean that it will now be the police who enter Gibraltar (pictured)
She told El Pais newspaper: “Schengen has a number of rules, procedures and tools to apply them, including its database, which only Spain has access to. Gibraltar and the UK do not.
& # 39; In order to enter a Gibraltar integrated into the Schengen area, the responsibility for border control rests in Spanish hands.
"Therefore, the final decision on who enters the Schengen area is of course Spanish."
Mr. Picardo was quick to question her interpretation and deny her claim to control arrivals.
He tweeted: “Under the New Year's Eve Agreement, only Gibraltar will decide who enters Gibraltar. Spanish officials will not carry out checks in Gibraltar at the airport or port now or in four years. This is our country. Couldn't be clearer. & # 39;
Gibraltar's new travel arrangements with Spain went into effect on New Year's Eve at 11:00 p.m. London time as the transition period for Brexit in the UK ended.
With a land area of just 6.8 square kilometers, Gibraltar relies entirely on imports to supply its 34,000 residents
Boris Johnson wholeheartedly welcomed the deal and underlined his commitment to safeguarding the interests of Gibraltar and its UK sovereignty.
Schengen includes most of the 27 EU members plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The Gibraltar Agreement will run for an initial period of four years.
Even when the UK was in the EU, it never joined Schengen, which meant passports were required to travel to EU member states.
With a land area of just 6.8 square kilometers, Gibraltar relies entirely on imports to supply its 34,000 residents.
A no-deal scenario would have slowed down the cross-border movement of goods with new customs procedures.
Border fluidity is also vital for the approximately 15,000 people who come to Gibraltar every day to work. This makes up half of the area's workforce. Most are Spanish and live in the impoverished neighborhood of La Linea.
In the 2016 referendum, Gibraltar voted 96 percent to remain in the EU.
Its status as a British overseas territory has always been a sensitive issue and Madrid continues to contest it.
Gibraltar: Britain's Rock on the Med since 1713
Gibraltar is a rocky peninsula measuring 2.6 square miles just 10 miles from North Africa.
It was officially permanently ceded to Great Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession.
Called "Jabal Tariq" in Arabic, after the Muslim commander Tariq Ibn-Ziyad, who turned the rock into a fortress in 711, it has been an important naval base for more than 1,000 years.
This long maritime history explains the diverse population, with many residents of mixed Genoese, British, Spanish and Maltese ancestry.
Most Gibraltarians can speak both English and Spanish.
As a British overseas territory, it houses a military garrison and has a naval base. However, over the past few decades the EU has tried to put pressure on London and Madrid to clarify their future status.
The Rock Constitution of 2006 provides that there can be no transfer of sovereignty to Spain against the will of its voters.
In a referendum in 2002, the Gibraltarians firmly rejected the idea of common sovereignty.
Free movement between Spain and Gibraltar was fully restored in 1985, but travelers continued to experience delays at the border.
In late 2006, passenger flights between Spain and Gibraltar resumed for the first time in nearly 30 years, although Spain carried out border controls again seven years later in response to a Gibraltar plan to build an artificial reef.
The 2006 air connection was restored after Gibraltar, Spain and the UK signed agreements to improve living conditions on the Rock.
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