Located at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, Gibraltar was a part of the European Union before Brexit. With 95 percent of its residents having voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, relations between the British overseas territory (BOT) and London have been turbulent ever since.
Spain’s acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, has repeatedly renewed calls for joint Spanish–British powers.
As the issue dragged on, the narrative grew more resentful, with the Spanish ambassador, Agustín Santos, saying negotiations between Madrid and London were urgently needed to overcome Gibraltar’s “colonial” status.
The remarks, in his annual address to the UN Decolonisation Committee in June, echoed calls by Mr Picardo, insisting “the Gibraltarian people” would not accept any solution proposed in their name and without their participation.
Mr Picardo’s commitment to ensuring Gibraltar’s future is not determined by two countries other than themselves was reflected in comments he made in response to the claims he had held “secret talks”.
He continued: “We have stated repeatedly that we are constantly meeting with colleagues from the UK, the EU and Spain as we continue to try to finalise negotiations for a safe and secure treaty between the UK and the EU which settles our future relationship with the EU and which has no implications for sovereignty.
“I am very proud to be leading the Gibraltar negotiations, alongside (Gibraltar’s Deputy Chief Minister) Joseph Garcia.”
“The work is constant and unrelenting and occurs daily by telephone, email, WhatsApp, video conferences and in-person meetings.
“It has not waned through the summer months as we try to finalise matters as soon as possible.”
The Gibraltar Chief added: “Work on the proposed treaty therefore continues, with more formal rounds to be announced shortly starting in September, and as soon as we can announce areas of progress or agreement, we will do so.”
The Gibraltar Government said there is nothing “remotely secret or undisclosed” about such meetings.
They added: “The Government only makes announcements of such meetings when they are formal negotiating rounds or when they involve senior ministerial representation from other governments involved.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega