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Gibraltar joins Schengen

Christian Fernsby |
Gibraltar will become part of the Schengen zone to ensure fluidity on its border with Spain in a landmark deal inked just hours before the Brexit deadline.

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Topics: GIBRALTAR   

"We have reached an initial agreement with the United Kingdom which will serve as the foundation for a future treaty between the European Union and the United Kingdom concerning Gibraltar," Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters in Madrid.

In a separate address, Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said that the deal set the stage for a treaty that would allow for "maximised and unrestricted mobility of persons" across the border.

The agreement was "a proposed framework for a UK-European Union agreement or treaty on Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU," he said, indicating the deal was finalised in "the early hours of this morning".

"We're going to avert the worst effects of a hard Brexit," Picardo said.

The agreement was hailed on Twitter by both the Spanish prime minister and his British counterpart.

Spain's Pedro Sanchez said it marked the start of "a new era" that would allow for "the removal of barriers", while Britain's Boris Johnson "wholeheartedly" welcomed the deal, stressing the UK's commitment to "the protection of the interests of Gibraltar and its British sovereignty."

Under terms of the agreement, Gibraltar would become a part of the Schengen zone with Spain acting as guarantor, Gonzalez Laya said.

Picardo said Spain would be responsible for managing the Schengen arrangement which would be implemented by Frontex, the agency charged with protecting the EU's external borders.

"This will be managed by the introduction of a Frontex operation for the control of entry and exit points," he said. The arrangement will be in place for an initial four-year period.

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