Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya confirmed Thursday that negotiators of her country and the UK have reached a draft agreement on the post-Brexit future of the British overseas territory Gibraltar.
As part of the deal, Gibraltar, located on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, would be able to join European Union (EU) programs and policies such as Schengen, the minister told reporters.
The Brexit deal between the UK and the EU, which was agreed on Dec. 24, failed to cover Gibraltar, leaving its future to parallel negotiations between the UK and Spain.
It had been feared that without an agreement over the territory, there would be huge problems crossing the frontier for some 15,000 Spanish citizens who regularly cross into Gibraltar for work, making up around half of the territory's workforce.
"Today is a day for hope," said the Spanish minister.
"It was six months of intense work... There were difficult moments, there were moments where we were stalled," she explained, adding that the agreement also opened the door for Gibraltar joining the Schengen Area.
Around 96 percent of voters in Gibraltar voted against Brexit in the 2016 referendum.