The foreign secretary has accused the European Union of trying to “undermine the UK’s sovereignty over Gibraltar”.
Dominic Raab’s reaction comes after the European Commission published a mandate which will be followed by negotiations.
The EC’s mandate seems to give more power to Spanish officials, after last year’s deal between the UK, Spain and Gibraltar gave more responsibility to the EU’s border agency Frontex.
“Pragmatism and flexibility”
“We have consistently shown pragmatism and flexibility in the search for arrangements that work for all sides, and we are disappointed that this has not been reciprocated,” Raab complained.
However, the EU has previously warned against “unilateral deviations” that the UK government has shown during negotiations and agreements with the bloc.
Gibraltar was not included in the EU-UK trade agreement, so it needs to be decided on under a separate deal.
UK’s objections seem to stem from EU proposals of new border arrangements in Gibraltar.
Honouring political commitment
The European Commision said the proposals would bring “solutions to remove physical checks and controls on persons and goods” at the border between Spain and Gibraltar.
“It is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on cooperation in the region,” the EC has said.
Maros Sefcovic, EC vice-president, said: “By putting forward this draft mandate, we are honouring the political commitment we made to Spain to start the negotiations of a separate agreement between the EU and the UK on Gibraltar.
“This is a detailed mandate, which aims to have a positive impact for those living and working on either side of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market.”
EU conference in April
In an EU conference attended by The London Economic in April, Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder, rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, suggested the bloc had doubts over whether the UK would “stick to its commitments”.
The European Parliament had condemned the UK’s “unilateral actions that are in breach of the Withdrawal Agreement” with regards to Northern Ireland.
And MEPs called on the UK government to “act in good faith and fully implement the terms of the agreements which it has signed’, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Christophe Hansen, rapporteur for the Committee on International Trade, said upon agreeing a trade deal with the UK: “Ratification of the agreement is not a vote of blind confidence in the UK government’s intention to implement our agreements in good faith.
“Rather, it is an EU insurance policy against further unilateral deviations from what was jointly agreed. Parliament will remain vigilant. In May, EC director Richard Szostak said Brexit problems across the board were “not chosen by the European Union”.