Gibraltarian officials are now clearing out some tunnels within the island for stockpiling supplies or blocked exports to Spain, in case a deal is not reached. It comes as the EU and UK are set to enter a third round of crunch talks concerning Gibraltar this coming Tuesday.
The UK has already reached a post-Brexit agreement with Spain over Gibraltar, but this has to be put on hold until a separate agreement over goods and customs is reached with the EU.
Speaking ahead of talks – due to take place in Brussels – Gibraltan Chief Minister Fabian Picardo hit out at the EU for “excessive” and “unnecessary” demands.
Mr Picardo told the House of Commons earlier this week that a new treaty would “resolve current issues” and confirmed: “The future of Gibraltar is British, British British”.
Dr Joseph Garcia, Gibraltar’s deputy chief minister, told the Telegraph the clearing of the World War 2 tunnels “should increase our storage capacity from something like two days to two months.”
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Why is Gibraltar stockpiling supplies?
There are two more rounds of scheduled talks concerning a deal between the UK and the EU on Gibraltar – one next week in Brussels and another in December.
There are hopes issues around goods and customs flowing between the British territory and Spain will be resolved then.
However, the Gibraltarian Government has opened up some of the underground space to keep goods should a deal not be reached.
The caverns – some of which are “the size of cathedrals” – would hold goods in case there are shortages coming through customs to the rock, and Gibraltarian goods making their way into the EU.
The European Commission sparked backlash in the summer, when it published draft agreement guidelines which appeared to contradict the agreement already reached between the UK and Spain.
It suggested that Spanish border officials would be stationed at Gibraltar airport and port rather than agents from the European Frontex.