The meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Spain and the United Kingdom, José Manuel Albares and David Cameron, held today in Brussels to try to seal an agreement on the status of the Rock of Gibraltar after Brexit, ends without agreement. Despite the optimism with which the Spanish delegation arrived this morning at the European Commission, the setting to which the talks have been held since April, there has been no white smoke at its Berlaymont headquarters.

“All parties are convinced that the agreement is getting closer and we will work closely and quickly to resolve all outstanding aspects to reach a comprehensive agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom,” states the joint statement published by the vice president. of the Commission, Maros Sefcovic and Ministers Albares and Cameron at the end of six hours of talks. The meeting “reaffirmed their shared commitment” to the closing of an agreement that gives “confidence, legal security and stability” to the inhabitants of the entire region, and “allowed us to expand” the “significant progress” achieved on April 12, they say. in reference to the first meeting in this format held in Brussels, when the “general political lines” of the future bilateral agreement were agreed, of which no details have emerged.

Since then, work has been done to translate these agreements into a legal text that has the approval of Madrid, London and Brussels. There is still homework. Although no deadline is set, the parties have agreed to “remain in permanent contact.” “Today is not a full stop, but a full stop,” the Spanish minister insisted at the end of the meeting in statements to the press. “We hope to conclude the agreement soon”, now it is about “bringing closer positions on the final points”, explained Albares at the doors of the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the Commission, from where the desired white smoke, always elusive in negotiations with the British.

Almost eight years after the referendum that led the United Kingdom to leave the EU, the situation in Gibraltar is still to be resolved. After more than two years of negotiations, with the arrival of Cameron to the British Government, contacts at the political level intensified and in April they moved to Brussels. Formally, it is the EU that will sign the eventual agreement, which should guarantee mobility between Gibraltar and Spain, an objective that will translate into measures as impactful as the demolition of the fence and the incorporation of the territory into the Schengen area, including the Rock Airport.

Airport management and customs control have been, from the beginning, one of the most conflictive points. The agreement provides for the European agency Frontex, under the supervision of the Spanish security forces, to take charge of arrival control at the Gibraltar airport, which will be shared use. In this way, the Spanish Government guarantees mobility between the national territory and the Rock (30,000 people cross the border every day, the majority to work) and Gibraltar, for its part, avoids being isolated in Europe. This Monday, Albares met with the Andalusian Government and with mayors of Campo de Gibraltar, to whom he assured that he will guarantee the current and future rights of cross-border workers.