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Front Pages 31 Dec, 2020 Follow News



By Michael Jarvis, UK Correspondent

The British government says it tried but could not persuade the European Commission on a “future relationship that included the Overseas Territories.”

In a statement dated December 30th the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister for the European Neighbourhood, Wendy Morton, outlined several outstanding issues impacting the OTs from the Brexit agreement.

She stated: “Despite trying everything we could, the European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the OTs. We sought to change the Commission’s position, but it declined to engage.”

Despite that, the FCDO minister assured that "with the signing of the historic UK-EU trade agreement completed the UK Government affirms its unwavering support for all of our Overseas Territories (OTs).”

“We remain unwavering in our commitment to safeguarding their interests," she affirmed.

The UK and the European Union reached agreement on Christmas Eve over the thorny Brexit deal of the UK leaving the now 27-member bloc.

While, the statement by the (FCDO) Minister Morton only specifically mentioned Gibraltar, Tristan de Cunha, the Falkland Islands and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus, it broadly sought to reassure Cayman and the nine other OTs which have been beneficiaries of EU aid and other programmes, which will now cease with Brexit.

“We will take into account any shortfalls that arose from the end of EU funding, as we plan future UK spending in the OTs. We will focus this funding on the greatest needs and to deliver the greatest impact," she said.

FCDO Minister Morton, who has the 'European Neighbourhood' portfolio, declared that "the OTs are a much-valued part of the whole British family and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests.”

Meanwhile, in a last-minute arrangement reached on Thursday, just hours before Brexit was due to take effect at midnight UK time, means that Gibraltar will remain in the EU’s Schengen free-movement area.

The UK and Spain have a long-standing border and territorial despite over Gibraltar.

The FCDO minister reiterated a UK commitment to provide “extra support and reassurance to Overseas Territories excluded from the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”

“With the signing of the historic UK-EU trade agreement completed the UK Government affirms its unwavering support for all of our Overseas Territories (OTs),” she said.

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