Gibraltar panic: EU ordered to act as key deadline nears – ‘They’re not doing anything!’

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The UK struck the deal with the EU at the eleventh hour last December as the expiration of the Brexit transition period fast approached. It meant that until the end of June the overseas territory bordering southern Spain would be kept in the Schengen zone.

With just weeks to go until the pact runs a long-term agreement has yet to come to fruition – and delays are on the horizon.

After Britons voted to sever ties with Brussels in June 2016 the number of cross-border workers in Gibraltar has continued to shoot up.

It has grown from 12,361 employees (7,153 of whom are Spaniards) to 14,402 (9,248 Spaniards), according to data released by the government of Gibraltar.

Many workers are worried which has prompted the Gibraltar Cross Border Workers Association to call for urgent action to be taken.

Part of the agreement aims to topple the fence separating the territory from its Spanish neighbour.

Under the terms of the deal Frontex, the EU’s border and coastguard agency, would play a role.

The body would work with authorities in Spain and Gibraltar to look after border control at the port and airport.

The arrangement would be part of a four-year transition period in which the Rock would have to adapt to the EU customs union in order to avoid distortions in the market.

Juan José Uceda, a spokesman for the Gibraltar Cross Border Workers Association, said workers are frustrated over the lack of a permanent deal.

He told Euronews his group is eagerly waiting on the EU to restart talks.

He explained: “Everything has been delayed, Brexit included … And now they’re even telling us ‘wait until June that things are going to be solved.

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“They’re not doing anything.”

The temporary deal is on track to be extended as both sides are not expected to have signed a new deal in time.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Gibraltar, Joseph García, warned if talks did not begin soon the deal would have to be extended.

He said: “Once that mandate has been given then the proper negotiations can commence.”

And a spokesperson for the European Commission’s Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capitals Markets Union, said a review was still underway before the “next steps” in determining the fate of Gibraltar could be decided.

Gibraltar measured around 2.6 square miles and is home to about 32,000 people.

The area was captured the Spanish by Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne.

During the Napoleonic Wars and World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy.

This was due to the fact that the Strait of Gibraltar controls the entrance and the exit to the Mediterranean Sea.

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