An Investment in Gibraltar's Presence in the EU

Last week Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, in the company of his Deputy Dr Joseph Garcia and newly-appointed Attorney General Michael Llamas, inaugurated the new Gibraltar office in Brussels; welcoming the large assembly of EU officials and press representatives which included more than 85 diplomats, ambassadors and MEPs.

During his address at the official opening ceremony, Mr Picardo declared that the Government's 1.3 million Euro investment in this new property not only represented "a great investment in bricks and mortar terms alone", but also reflected how Gibraltar is "coming of age and is open to doing business with the European Union."

Dr Garcia has echoed the Chief Minister's statements, emphasising that aside from the practical advantages attached to having a permanent physical presence in the EU capital, "the new office also makes a statement that we are here to engage with the EU institutions". This, he believes, will be vital in "[stepping] up our presence in Brussels and [putting] across the Gibraltar point of view to as many people as possible."

Sir Graham Watson, who was conferred the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar earlier this year following a motion passed unanimously by the Gibraltar Parliament, will head the new office in Brussels, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge on Gibraltar affairs to the position, having served as a Gibraltar MEP for ten years. Sir Graham's role as a Gibraltar representative will predominantly involve directing and developing the lobbying activities of the Government in the EU capital, as well as advising the Government on strategies for boosting communication with the United Kingdom's Permanent Representation to the EU (UKREP) and promoting Gibraltar's interests more generally within the EU. In extension to political lobbying responsibilities, Sir Graham and his team at Gibraltar House in Brussels will also work to galvanise business in Gibraltar from Brussels. Commenting on his appointment, Sir Graham declared his appreciation for the confidence placed in him by the Gibraltar Parliament, stating: "I hope to be able to build on the progress made by the Government of Gibraltar in promoting Gibraltar's political and business interests at EU level [and] look forward to broadening the understanding of Gibraltar's contribution to the EU."

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