MADRID - Spain and the European Commision have sent Britain a proposal to keep the Gibraltar land border open as part of a definitive solution settling the post-Brexit status of the enclave, the Spanish foreign ministry said on Friday.
Spain, Britain and the European Union agreed on Dec. 31, 2020, hours before Britain's full exit from the bloc, that Gibraltar would remain part of EU agreements such as the Schengen Area and Spain would police the port and the airport, pending a definitive solution.
Spain's Foreign Affairs minister Jose Manuel Albares told Spanish local and regional authorities near Gibraltar on Friday both Spain and the European Commission had sent Britain "a proposal to make the area a zone of shared prosperity".
The British ambassador in Madrid Hugh Elliott said on Thursday in an interview on Gibraltar TV GBC he was confident a deal can be reached this year.
The Spanish-EU proposal includes removing the fence to ensure free flow of people between Spain and the enclave, the Spanish ministry said in a statement.
"This requires Spain to take control, on behalf of the Schengen area, of Gibraltar's external borders and, to this end, to be able to exercise certain functions and powers necessary to protect the integrity and security of the Schengen area," it added.
About 15,000 people commute daily from Spain to Gibraltar, which has a population of about 32,000.
Spain has agreed to put aside the issue of its sovereignty claim over Gibraltar to focus on the opportunity to keep the border open, the Foreign Minister said.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Inti Landauro and Toby Chopra)