İrem UZUN -TDO- Spain has reached a deal with the UK to maintain free movement to and from Gibraltar once the UK formally leaves the EU on Friday. To avoid a hard border, Gibraltar will join the EU's Schengen zone and follow other EU rules, while remaining a British Overseas Territory.

“Today is a day for hope,” Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, said on Thursday as she announced that an agreement in principle had been reached. “In the long history of our relations with the UK, related to Gibraltar, today we’re facing a turning point.”  As part of the deal, the British overseas territory located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula would be able to join EU programs and policies such as Schengen with Spain acting as a guarantor, Laya told reporters. “Schengen will be applied to Gibraltar, with Spain assuming responsibility as a member state. This will allow for the abolishment of controls between Spain and Gibraltar,” she added.

Gibraltar wasn’t part of the Brexit trade deal between the EU and the UK, which was announced on Christmas Eve.  The territory was ceded to Britain in 1713, but Spain maintains its claim to sovereignty over it. In the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum, 96 percent of voters in Gibraltar supported remaining in the EU. They faced the possibility of entering the New Year with tight new controls on what for decades has been an open border with the bloc through Spain. 

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