In a statement on Thursday Picardo said there is now “a fairly final Protocol on Gibraltar” which will be a part of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement.
“I believe that there is genuine reason for optimism that there is no longer any question mark over the inclusion of Gibraltar in any transitional or implementation period,” he said.
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, was also reported saying at an EU summit on Thursday that the protocol on Gibraltar was “already closed with the British government”.
“Gibraltar will no longer be a problem in arriving at a Brexit deal,”
“Gibraltar will no longer be a problem in arriving at a Brexit deal,” Sanchez said at a news conference in Brussels on the sidelines of this week’s EU summit.
Model linked to Northern Ireland
The detail of the protocol has not been released, but press reports indicate that it establishes that Gibraltar would be covered by the UK’s withdrawal agreement and also addresses the rights of people in and near the territory.
“The Protocol follows, in great measure, the structure of the Protocol on Northern Ireland, which is already published,” Picardo said.
Since Madrid had a veto over the provisions of any Brexit deal that would apply to Gibraltar, some UK and Gibraltar officials had been worried that it would use the negotiations to step up its claim on the island.
Britain insists Gibraltar must leave the bloc on the same terms as the UK, so the use of such a veto could have derailed a broader agreement.