GSD disappointed by the European Union negotiating position on Gibraltar

Posted April 01, 2017

The EU guideline effectively forces talks over Gibraltar in which Spain will have an upper hand, allowing its government to bring back to the negotiation table the dispute over the encalve's sovereignty, which it ceded to Britain in 1713.

The tiny British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip has always been the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.

The Council guidelines stated: "After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom". While Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly against quitting the European Union, it now faces the possibility of losing access to both a source of thousands of workers who cross its border daily and a market for its financial services industry.

A senior European Union official said the issue of Gibraltar was included in the negotiating guidelines as it is one of a number that involve joint or contested jurisdiction, and that "the European Union is naturally pursuing the interests of the remaining 27 member states".

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"Brexit is already complicated enough without Spain trying to complicate it further", he added, branding the proposed singling out of Gibraltar "unnecessary, unjustified, unacceptable" and "discriminatory".

Spain has had long ambitions to reclaim sovereignty over Gibraltar.

"Ministers should listen to the first minister of Gibraltar, who this week said that Gibraltar should be no bargaining chip in, pawn in or victim of Brexit", Labour lawmaker Mary Creagh said in a statement emailed by Open Britain, which campaigns to soften Brexit. The region's chief minister said the proposal was "a clear manifestation of the predictably predatory attitude" Spain holds toward the territory.

In 2002, they also voted to reject the idea of shared sovereignty between the United Kingdom and Spain, with 99% of citizens voting to remain under British jurisdiction.

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Picardo said he hoped that the trade deals Britain hopes to negotiate with other countries around the world, including the United States, will also benefit Gibraltar.

Gibraltar's border with Spain was closed by former dictator Francisco Franco in 1969 and only reopened in the 1980s.

Spanish politicians picked up on the fact that Theresa May's Article 50 letter, which triggered the two-year Brexit process, did not mention Gibraltar, while it did mention the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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