Letter to the Chairman from Rt Hon Peter
Hain MP, Minister of State for Europe
1. In advance of the Committee's evidence
session on Gibraltar that we have on 28 November, I thought I
would write to set out the position for the Committee so that
we will have as much time as possible for questions. This letter
supplements the two FCO Memoranda that the Committee has already
2. As the Committee will know, the Foreign
Secretary and I held a further meeting under the Brussels Process
with Spanish Foreign Minister Piqué and his colleagues
in Barcelona on 20 November. A copy of the joint press communiqué
issued after that meeting has been placed in the Library of the
House; I attach a further copy for Committee Members. 10
3. I would like to set out the fundamentals
of our approach to the Brussels Process. As Members of the Committee
are aware, the Brussels Communiqué of November 1984 established
that discussions would cover a range of co-operation issues, and
that issues of sovereignty would be discussed. But it also recognised
the Government's commitment to the people of Gibraltar set out
in the 1969 Constitution Order. The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary
and I have repeated publicly that we will stand by that commitment.
4. We took the decision to re-launch the
Process in July because the present situation was in no-one's
interests. The Brussels Process offered the opportunity to secure
a better future for the people of Gibraltar, producing as I suggested
to the House on 7 November, three wins: for Gibraltar, for the
United Kingdom and for Spain. But if we lack the political will
or vision to seize this opportunity, there will be many losers,
not least the people of Gibraltar.
5. I and the Government fully understand
the concerns that many people in Gibraltar, and others who are
concerned for Gibraltar's interests, have expressed in recent
weeks. But many of these are based on misunderstandings; Gibraltar
is not, for instance, being excluded from the Process. On the
contrary, I have kept in close touch with Mr Caruana, Gibraltar's
Chief Minister, and Jack Straw and his Spanish opposite number
repeated last week their strong desire for him to join the talks.
It would be better to have the voice of Gibraltar at the table.
I am convinced that dialogue with Spain is the best way forward.
6. As explained in the FCO's second memorandum,
our aim through the Brussels Process is to deliver a more stable,
secure and prosperous future for Gibraltar, leaving Gibraltarians
free from the many inconveniences which they face at present,
including border delays, telephone problems and flight restrictions,
which I know the Committee feel strongly about. But more than
this, an agreement with Spain would open up real new possibilities
for Gibraltar, including the development of its potential as a
significant financial services hub in the whole region, as well
as the chance to become a focal point for tourism in the region.
Gibraltar has no reason to fear the Brussels Process, and a great
deal to gain from it.
7. The outcome of the Brussels Process will
be put to the Gibraltar people. We shall continue our discussions
with Spain on all the areas contained in the Brussels Communiqué,
in anticipation of a further Ministerial meeting in the New Year.
As I said above, the Process would benefit greatly from the participation
of the Chief Minister representing directly the views of the Government
and people of Gibraltar; Mr Caruana would have his separate and
distinct voice on the British side of the table. We very much
hope that the Chief Minister will participate in future meetings.
Rt Hon Peter Hain MP,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
12 See evidence, p 53. Back