Madrid and London are reported to be close to agreeing a treaty on Gibraltar’s relationship with Spain following Brexit.  Spain’s Foreign Affairs Minister José Manuel Albares said in the middle of last month that the Spanish and British governments had agreed to make “progress as fast as possible.”

An aim of the talks is to facilitate movements to and from Spain by land by incorporating Gibraltar into the EU’s Schengen free-movement area.  At a joint press conference on December 14 with the UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly, Sr Albares, declared, “Spain is ready to do a deal.” 

However he added that while “a lot” of progress had been made, there remained some areas of disagreement, most obviously over who will carry out passport checks at the airport in Gibraltar.  But the Minister said he was sure these could be resolved, while warning, “What is clear is that we can’t be negotiating eternally.”

Last month’s discussions included proposals to remove the fence at the border with Gibraltar and to relocate customs checks to Gibraltar’s airport and port.  Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who attended the press conference remotely, said later that any final decision could depend on the outcome of Spain’s forthcoming regional and general elections.  He added, “We cannot pretend that 300 years of disagreement can disappear in a moment.”

News of the imminent deal came in the same week that some passengers on a cancelled Ryanair flight from Gibraltar to the UK were initially denied entry to Spain.  Those holding British and other non-Schengen passports were at first refused to permission to cross the border to meet their diverted aircraft which had landed in Málaga. 

The Spanish authorities argued that they no proof that they were entering the country for that reason, until they were issued with new boarding cards which were accepted by as sufficient evidence.  London says it has raised the incident with Madrid.