Gibraltar Government makes historic, high-level, packed-agenda visit to Brussels - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Gibraltar Government makes historic, high-level, packed-agenda visit to Brussels

Friday, 22 March 2013
A delegation of senior members of the Government of Gibraltar has made a busy but no doubt constructive 48-hour visit to Brussels this week for a large number of high-level meetings on matters relating to the Rock and the EU hosted by Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, Chief Secretary Ernest Gomez, the Government’s Chief Legal Adviser Michael Llamas QC, and UK Representative Albert Poggio.

Packed agenda

On Wednesday, the delegation discussed online gaming legislation with Michel Barnier (left), the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, and met with the Parliament’s rapporteur on the dossier, German Liberal MEP Jurgen Creutzmann, before the Chief Minister made a small piece of history and addressed MEPs in the Internal Market Committee.

The delegation also met with Cecilia Malmström (left), the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, to discuss freedom of movement and the delays experienced by locals at the frontier at the Gibraltar-Spain border. The delegation handed the Commissioner a detailed dossier which included photographs, statistics, press cuttings and details of the frontier queue website that the Gibraltar Government set up in December. That same month, the Commissioner had stated on behalf of the Commission in response to a parliamentary question that it had ‘no indications’ of excessive checks by Spain at the border, but had earlier offered to facilitate technical talks between Gibraltar, Spain and the UK on the matter.

There was a number of meetings with MEPs including Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles (chair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee), Labour MEP Brian Simpson ( Chair of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee), UKIP Leader Nigel Farage, as well as familiar faces Sir Graham Watson, Julie Girling and Ashley Fox who represent Gibraltar in the European Parliament.

Dr Garcia met with the European Commission to discuss marine conservation and explain the position of the Gibraltar Government in relation to the designation of the ‘Estrecho Oriental’ site which overlaps the existing UK-designated ‘Southern waters of Gibraltar’ site. The European Commission, in response to an earlier parliamentary question, had said the UK and Spain must cooperate to manage protected nature sites in Gibraltar waters.

Dr Garcia, the leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party, also paid a courtesy visit to Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister and current leader of the ALDE Group of MEPs in the Parliament.

The Chief Minister and his Deputy later met Sir Jon Cunliffe, the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the European Union, to discuss EU matters of mutual interest to the UK and Gibraltar. “The Ambassador and senior members of his team had a very useful meeting with the delegation. We explained UK Rep’s important role monitoring EU issues which are priorities for Gibraltar and representing Gibraltar in the EU,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office later confirmed to the Gibraltar Chronicle.

To conclude the visit, the Chief Minister delivered a keynote speech on Gibraltar-EU relations at the Edelman Centre. The full transcript can be read here (pdf).

The weekend, the delegation will cross the English Channel to the UK, where the Chief Minister is to deliver a speech in Oxford as part of the city’s Literary Festival.

Photos: Government of Gibraltar

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