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EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Speaking after a four-way meeting with UK foreign secretary David Cameron, Gibraltar chief minister Fabian Picardo, and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares told reporters that agreements had been reached on the status of Gibraltar’s airport, goods and mobility, but that details would not be revealed until the conclusion of talks.

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“We have a few weeks of work left,” said Albares.

For his part, Picardo said that there was a “forward-looking and positive opportunity … to create a new dynamic and new relationship and a very positive future”.

In a joint statement, the UK and Spain said that “significant progress” had been achieved, adding that negotiations will continue over the coming weeks to conclude the UK-EU Agreement.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU in 2016, and to end freedom of movement between the two, created major problems in Gibraltar, a self-governing British overseas territory which sits at the southern-most tip of Spain. Thousands of people cross the border with Spain every day to work.

The only British overseas territory to vote on Brexit, Gibraltar voted to stay in the EU by a 96-4 percent margin. However, it was not included in the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement that came into force after the UK left the EU’s single market in 2021.

Since Brexit, trade and border-crossings between Spain and Gibraltar have been operating on ad hoc arrangements and there is no hard deadline by which an agreement on a new treaty must be reached.

The Cross Frontier Group which brings together unions and business organisations from Spain and Gibraltar has warned that “the current state of affairs on this matter and the uncertainty caused by the contradictory news emanating from the negotiating process are subjecting the citizens of our area to stress, that we believe should be stopped immediately.”

It also called for “the dismantling of the border crossing for citizens and goods.”

Gibraltar’s post-Brexit status has also been complicated by the long-standing dispute over its sovereignty between London and Madrid.

Spain maintains its claim to the territory, which has one of the UK’s most important navy bases, though Gibraltarians rejected shared or Spanish sovereignty in referendums in 1967 and 2002.

Last week, EU Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas put the role of the EU executive as a broker in the talks in the spotlight after joking that “Gibraltar is Spanish” to a UK official. Spain’s Albares described the remarks as “very unfortunate and incomprehensible.”