The President of the Mancomunidad de Municipios (Commonwealth of Municipalities) of the Campo de Gibraltar, Juan Lozano, says that he advocates for an “area of shared prosperity” with Gibraltar and that “flag waving” will not resolve the real problems faced by citizens.
The president of the Commonwealth of Municipalities of Campo de Gibraltar, Juan Lozano (of the PSOE – Spanish Socialist Workers Party in government nationally), has expressed concern about what he has called a lack of understanding in the Brexit negotiations, which will see the UK, and therefore Gibraltar, depart from the EU.
With less than three months to go before the Brexit deadline is reached, Lozano has said that the situation is also generating great concern and anxiety in the area.
“At first, it seemed that there was going to be an agreement and that the negotiations in relation to Gibraltar were going to be conducted with an understanding of issues such as the environment and taking into consideration the rights of citizens, which gave us some peace of mind. However, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that an agreement may not be reached, and this has created a lot of uncertainty.”
“If an agreement is reached, it is to be fulfilled in its entirety. This change of tac has caused a lot of anxiety and we do hope that this does not go wrong and that everyone involved is working towards a solution”, he told ReachExtra during an interview.
Lozano said that both Gibraltar and Spain are interested in an agreement being reached, but “the United Kingdom has disengaged. We are talking about people’s lives, and negotiations should not be so strained. Let’s hope that everything is resolved and that the UK and Spain are able to find solutions to the problems facing the citizens and the prosperity of the Campo de Gibraltar”.
The uncertain situation has brought about questions that are worrying some more than others. Lozano said that what troubles him the most is the fact that agreements have not been reached on commercial links, fluidity at the frontier or cross-frontier workers’ rights: “These aspects affect us daily. If an agreement is reached, at least we will know what to expect. Therefore, any agreement, whatever it may be, is better than no agreement”.
He also highlighted the difficult economic situation in the Campo de Gibraltar, which he says has deteriorated due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and added that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the area:
“The situation in the Campo de Gibraltar is quite complicated, despite the fact that we have the largest port in Spain and a significant industrial estate. We also have high unemployment (30%). Now we have to add Covid 19, which is causing serious problems for the economy, and Brexit too. Without an agreement, anything can happen. The last thing we want to do is lose trust, but one cannot avoid the worry.”
Despite the current uncertainty, Lozano said that he has faith in the negotiations between Spain, the EU and the United Kingdom, and said that he is committed to the creation of an area of shared prosperity of benefit to both Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar – echoing the “win-win” formula used by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya during her visit to the region this summer.
“The President of the (Spanish) Government is committed to creating an area of shared prosperity on both sides of the frontier, something that the Gibraltarians have also welcomed. That is why we hope for a positive agreement and investments so that the Campo de Gibraltar can come out of the marginalised situation which we have been put in by successive Administrations over the years. It is now time that this area of shared prosperity comes into fruition because we all deserve it and we are located in a strategic place”, Lozano told us.
According to Lozano, the area of prosperity will generate investments, wealth and employment “for everyone”; stating that the area that should benefit the most is La Línea because it is the place that suffers the most. Above all, he has called for everyone to bear in mind the importance of human relations on both sides of the frontier.
Thus, Lozano has said that he is committed to leaving the sovereignty debate to one side and that people should stop ‘waving flags’: “The Gibraltar issue has not been solved in 300 years. What we cannot do is put the flag above everything, because flags do not feed us. The Government of Spain has not renounced its claim to Gibraltar at any point, but is looking to solve the real problems faced by citizens. Flag waving will not help. We are at a historic moment in time and we hope that the results are in the best interest for the Citizens of the Campo de Gibraltar during the negotiations. Now we have a chance to be in a situation where everyone wins.”
Lozano also stated that he is convinced that whatever happens, Brexit will not break the neighbourly relations between both sides of the frontier: “We are neighbours and family. We are united by ties of family and friendship, which comes above politics. The frontier was closed for many years and that did not change this. The blood ties can never be broken.”
When we asked him about the kind of future he would like to see for Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar, his answer was firm: “I want a region in which citizens on both sides of the frontier live in peace and prosperity, with the uniqueness that each one of us has. We must fight for the things that bring us together and leave aside those things that push us apart.”
Reach Comment: Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce Economic Impact study 2015
A team from the University of Bournemouth led by the well-respected economist Professor John Fletcher found that:
- In 2013 the Gibraltarian economy accounted for 24% of the total workforce of the Campo de Gibraltar.
- Spanish frontier workers (excluding other nationals who worked in Gibraltar and live in the Campo de Gibraltar earned more than £102,000,000 (€112.383.600.) in 2013.
- The total impact of the Gibraltarian economy in the Campo that year totalled £554,000,000 (€610.286.400).
As everywhere else the Covid pandemic has had an impact on some of the mainstays the Gibraltarian economy including but not just tourism and related sectors with job losses already happening albeit in an orderly fashion. The hope is for an early recovery but an analyst close to Reach said:
“Juan Lozano is absolutely right. This is a challenge which we all have to meet together in a spirit of hard work, initiative and above all c-operation”.
NEXT: Fabian Picardo on Gibraltar’s COVID Response, Recession, Brexit & Cross-Frontier Relations
“Therefore, I think we have actually in this period demonstrated how strong our institutional relationships are becoming and how unbreakable our personal human relationships are…”