Thursday September 23, 2021

Gibraltar eyes joining Schengen to ease post-Brexit border fears

AFP
January 19, 2020

GIBRALTAR: Gibraltar is considering becoming part of the Schengen zone as a way of ensuring fluidity of movement on its border with Spain after Britain leaves the European Union, its Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has said.

His remarks, made in an interview with AFP on Friday, came just two weeks before Britain and Gibraltar formerly leave the bloc and enter into an 11-month period of intense negotiations to thrash out the details of their future relationship.

And for Gibraltar, a tiny British enclave at the southernmost tip of Spain, arrangements along its lone border post -- which counts more than 28,000 crossings every day -- will be central to talks when the so-called transition period begins on February 1.

"We talked about this issue before Brexit... about Gibraltar becoming part of the Schengen zone," Picardo said, referring to a passport-free zone where people can move freely across the internal borders of the 26 member states, four of whom are not part of the EU. Britain is one of six EU nations that are not part of Schengen, but if Gibraltar were to join, it would be "a positive step", Picardo said.

"Does it make sense for the EU that 2.5 square miles (6.2 square kilometres) at the southernmost tip of Iberia should not be accessible to EU citizens? I don´t think it does. A strategic port on at the mouth of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar provides a lifeline for some 14,000 workers who cross in and out every day, the vast majority from the impoverished Spanish city of La Linea which flanks the enclave.