THE Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo met this morning (Thursday) with the President of the Junta de Andalucia Susana Diaz in Sevilla
This was the first time a Gibraltar Chief Minister was received by a Junta President in the seat of the Andalucian executive.
Mr Picardo was accompanied by the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, who is responsible for work related to Brexit, and the Attorney General Michael Llamas whilst the Vice President of the Junta de Andalucia Manuel Jimenez Barrios was also present.
According to official comments by the government, the bilateral meeting was positive and constructive and centred on their respective areas of competence and there was a determination on both sides to make sure that residents and workers are no worse off as a consequence of the UK and Gibraltar leaving the European Union.
Free border access between Gibraltar and Spain is essential for the more than 13,000 people who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar, many of whose jobs depended on the continued fluid flow of tourists through the land frontier.
The Chief Minister pointed out during the meeting that the last Chamber of Commerce study which is five years old showed that Gibraltar business spent €450 million with Spanish suppliers, mostly in Andalucia, and that it was estimated that Gibraltar residents spent some €80 million in the surrounding Spanish region.
After the meeting the Chief Minister said: “This historic first contact at San Telmo has been a positive and constructive one. I believe it is a precursor to potentially working together to ensure the continued economic well-being of the people we each represent and in respect of those areas in which both governments have relevant competence.”
Ironically (or perhaps intentionally) however, on Wednesday night, delays as long as 75 minutes took place as many of those same workers tried to drive home across the land border hindered by the fact that both Guardia Civil and National Police officers increased the number of searches they carried out on vehicles.
The resulting tailback was so long that an ambulance carrying an emergency patient was delayed on its journey to St Bernard’s Hospital.