A solution to the EU-UK dispute over sausage exports to Northern Ireland could also ensure the presence of British bangers in Gibraltar’s supermarkets, the peninsula’s prime minister has told MPs.
Fabian Picardo, speaking to the European House Control Committee, said so Brexit had created “administrative burdens” that reduced the diversity of goods that Gibraltar‘s stores can stock.
The Prime Minister said he was “disappointed to see that some of our supermarkets are not able to offer the range they were able to offer until now”, when he stressed the importance of “Gibraltar’s character” of its supermarkets are able to store British products.
Last December, Britain and Spain reached a last-minute deal to avoid a hard border in Gibraltar as the Brexit transition period nears its end.
Gibraltar, a British overseas territory known as “The Rock”, is not covered by the Brexit trade agreement and negotiations are currently underway between Britain and the EU on a permanent post-Brexit treaty on the peninsula’s relationship with the bloc.
In recent months, there have been reports of shortages in Gibraltar’s supermarkets, including for some meat products.
And Mr Picardo told MEPs on Wednesday how “today, as a result of Brexit, it is not possible to get as much of the product range into Gibraltar as it was before, without administrative burdens making it difficult for our traders to do it as they used to ”.
“Gibraltar’s ability to buy British products in their supermarkets, I think, is an important part of Gibraltar’s character and the cultural difference that Gibraltar marks with the area around us,” he told the committee.
“I think it not only enriches Gibraltar, it enriches the area around ourselves for those who are not expats who happen to live in the area.
“If I shop on a Saturday afternoon, I sometimes find families that I can see are not Gibraltar, but are Spanish families who come to buy some of this HP sauce and some of the great British bangers that could have been available previously.
“When I went into politics, I never thought I would think as much of the great British banger as I have to think of it today.”
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However, Mr Picardo said he was “confident” that a new post-Brexit treaty would “solve current problems”.
He said this could be done in a way that recognizes “Gibraltar’s singularity” and “will ensure the availability of those goods in Gibraltar that do not in any way, shape or form threaten [EU] internal market and does not create a problem that may concern human health and food consumption. “
The UK and EU are also currently negotiating post-Brexit events for Northern Ireland, including over the recent “sausage wars” related to the export of chilled meat from the UK to Northern Ireland.
Sir. Picardo said a resolution on issues relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol “could in fact point us in the direction of the resolution that we can adopt in the context of the Gibraltar events”.
He added: “Although the two are completely separate, on this particular issue – the movement of the great British banger over from Britain to the EU’s common customs territory – these problems will be similar regardless of whether the sausage meets the border from Northern Ireland to Eire. , or from Ireland or Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom through the European continent to Gibraltar. “
The Prime Minister, however, suggested that a solution would not come “without much pain”.
Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713, when its citizens voted overwhelmingly, with 99% in favor, to remain under British sovereignty in a 2002 referendum.
Spain has long maintained its own claim to Gibraltar, which lies off the south coast of the country, and has previously used the Brexit process to push the issue.
But Mr Picardo said that while he was prime minister, “no Gibraltarian would ever negotiate any arrangements that would relinquish British sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over Gibraltar”.
“I do not have a crystal ball, but I can tell you that the future of Gibraltar – if it’s one thing, it’s three things – it’s British, British, British,” he added.