Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, met with his British counterpart Elizabeth Truss this week. This is the British minister’s first visit to Spain since her appointment in September.
On 1 December, the two met on the fringes of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Riga.
The meeting addressed the state of the negotiations between the Commission and the United Kingdom on the future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on Gibraltar. The first four negotiating rounds have made significant progress.
The two Ministers exchanged views on aspects of the negotiation, which is being conducted on the basis of the Commission’s mandate and proposals put forward by the UK. They considered these negotiations to have been very productive and reflect the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
The process has progressed more slowly due to the complexity of the issues involved and the COVID-19 pandemic. Negotiations have covered all areas, including free movement of people, exchange of goods, conditions of fair competition, environmental issues, coordination of social security systems and citizens’ rights, without losing sight of the fact that the future Agreement must respect the acquis communautaire and the legal positions of Spain and the United Kingdom. According to the Commission, the negotiations could move into a final phase very soon, with a view to a deal being reached in the first quarter of 2022.
The two Ministers also reviewed the state of negotiation of other issues of a bilateral nature, which are important for the development and complementarity of the EU-UK Agreement.
The two Ministers discussed the extension of the validity of the Memoranda of Understanding between Spain and the United Kingdom on Gibraltar on Police and Customs Cooperation, Environmental Cooperation and Tobacco and Other Products, which were due to expire on 31 December, in order to ensure an appropriate framework for cooperation until the new EU-UK Agreement on Gibraltar and the appropriate complementary bilateral understandings are signed.
International and bilateral agenda
During the meeting, the two Ministers also discussed various issues on the international agenda such as NATO and the Madrid Summit in 2022, the Indo-Pacific, climate change, with special attention on the results and the positive commitments adopted at the recent COP26, successfully organised by the British Government in Glasgow, the strengthening of global supply chains and gender issues and feminist foreign policy.
Bilaterally, both stressed the close economic and trade relations, the role of our companies, and the importance of contacts between our societies. In this regard, it is worth highlighting the efforts being made by both governments to improve the mobility of our citizens – especially our young people – after Brexit. A recently established working group between the two countries, which has already held three meetings and aims to enhance contact between our citizens, is contributing to this.