EU’s last shot at survival: How Gibraltar Brexit deal could hold key to ‘reverse’ crisis

Fabian Picardo addresses coronavirus situation in Gibraltar

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In a damning assessment of the 27-member Union, Mr Oliva said the EU was in “crisis” after Brexit “bred disaffection and reinvigorated Euroscepticism”. He said positive stories about the EU had been buried beneath a “gravy train lore” and “incompetence”.

Writing for Gibraltar Panorama, he said: “The EU, the very concept of a united Europe is in crisis.

“Brexit has bred disaffection and reinvigorated Euroscepticism.

“Upbeat stories from Brussels are usually obscured under the weight of gravy train lore, buried beneath allegations of incompetence, a recurring narrative of unelected elites entrenched behind faceless bureaucracies deciding the fate of a continent from ivory towers in unaccountable power centres.”

His comments come as the EU continues negotiations with the UK about the future of the Rock following the UK’s exit from the bloc.

Mr Oliva said this was the chance for “a positive advert for the declining European ideal” and an opportunity for the EU “to shine by showing generosity and constructive spirit”.

He added: “The UK-EU Treaty on Gibraltar could potentially reverse this, become a rare test case, a positive advert for the declining European ideal: the cross-border alliances of peoples in reciprocal arrangements to accomplish enterprises of mutual interest.

“The EU can either adopt an intransigent, legalistic approach, without due regard to our economic, geographic realities and historic antecedents, or choose to apply founding principles that have long been eroded.

“It is an opportunity for the EU to shine by showing generosity and constructive spirit, in pursuit of a greater goal to portray the EU in the best possible light, and convey a powerful message beyond our shores.”

The British overseas territory is at the centre of a row between the UK and EU after Brexit, as access to Gibraltar was not included in the trade agreement.

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Under an EU proposal, Spain would gain control over the country’s external border.

On New Year’s Eve last year – the final day before the UK unshackled itself from the EU – a deal was struck with Spain which would maintain free movement of people to and from Gibraltar.

The agreement had given added responsibility to the EU’s border force but a later proposal gave more authority to Spanish officials.

The EU and UK had agreed to maintain the movement of people between Gibraltar and the wider Schengen Area.But the European Commission sparked anger in the UK in July when it published draft guidelines deviating from the original UK-Spain agreement.

The changes intimated that Spanish border authorities would be stationed in Gibraltar as opposed to Frontex, something which the UK opposes.

This week the First Minister of Gibraltar, Fabián Picardo, reaffirmed the nation’s position that it will always be considered “exclusively British” regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

Mr Picardo said: “My Government sees Gibraltar’s future in one way and in one way only. As British, British, British.

And under the Government I lead, we are closer to Britain than we have been for generations.“So don’t for one moment believe we would do anything to change that.

“In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago that we received the greatest dividend in our relationship with Britain.”

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