Spain, UK reach draft deal on Gibraltar after Brexit

Madrid, Dec 31 (efe-epa).- Spain and the United Kingdom on Thursday came to a draft agreement to avoid a hard border in Gibraltar after Brexit.

Arancha González Laya, the Spanish foreign minister, announced the draft deal just hours before the UK is due to begin life outside the European Union.

“We are knocking down barriers to build an area of shared prosperity,” she told a press conference. “This is the message we send with this deal.”

The agreement grants Gibraltar access to EU programs and policies such as the Schengen Area for free movement and does away with the need for customs controls.

Over 15,000 Spanish workers and 200 trucks cross the border into Gibraltar each day.

The EU’s Frontex will help monitor the border as well as airport and seaport arrivals.

González Laya said the deal would provide a base on which to build a future relationship between Spain and the UK, once the latter becomes a third-party country.

Spain on Tuesday gave the UK 72 hours to land a deal on Gibraltar and warned that no agreement could see the British Overseas Territory subject to a hard Brexit.

Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime minister, tweeted Thursday: “I wholeheartedly welcome today’s political agreement between the UK and Spain on Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU.

“The UK has always been, and will remain, totally committed to the protection of the interests of Gibraltar and its British sovereignty ”

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