Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Chairman from Rt Hon Peter Hain MP, Minister of State for Europe


  I wanted to update you on Gibraltar following the resumption of the Brussels Process on 26 July.

  The meeting went well. Jack Straw set out our aim, through the Brussels Process, of finding ways to overcome all the differences between us and Spain over Gibraltar which would be acceptable to the people of Gibraltar. In explaining our position, Jack made our constitutional commitment to the people of Gibraltar very clear. He also made clear that we did not see the Matutes proposals as forming the basis for discussion in the future, since they were based on a pre-determined outcome on sovereignty.

  Señor Piqué accepted that the Matutes' proposals would be put to one side and would not form the basis of discussions in the future. He also agreed readily that the support of the people of Gibraltar was vital to the success of the Brussels Process and that would welcome Chief Minister Caruana's participation in future meetings.

  On the issue of telephones, Señor Piqué offered a further 70,000 numbers from the Cadiz exchange, in addition to the 30,000 numbers presently available in Gibraltar. In addition, both sides agreed that technical discussions should be pursued urgently to reach a longer-term solution to the issue, addressing four points: the use of the +44 code for calls from Spain to Gibraltar; dropped calls from third countries to Gibraltar, least cost routed via Spain; roaming agreements to allow Gibraltar mobile phones to work in Spain; competition and taxation issues.

  I telephoned Peter Caruana immediately after the meeting to brief him on its outcome.

  Initial reporting of the meeting in the Gibraltar media has been positive. I thought you might be interested in the enclosed articles from Friday's Gibraltar Chronicle5[7]. I also enclose a copy of the press release which Jack and Señor Pique put out after the meeting.

  There will be further meetings at official and Ministerial level in the autumn to take forward this start, and we will continue to consult very closely with Peter Caruana. I hope that you and I will also be able to stay in close contact on Gibraltar issues over the coming months.

Rt Hon Peter Hain MP

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

30 July 2001

7   Gibraltar Chronicle, 27th July 2001. Not herewith printed. Back

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