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24 November 2018

Financial Times: Spain seals deal with EU and UK on Gibraltar

Spain has reached an agreement with the EU and UK clarifying the status of the territory of Gibraltar, paving the way for leaders to approve Britain’s Brexit treaty at a summit in Brussels.

[...] “Europe and the UK have accepted the Spanish demands, and as a result Spain lifts its veto and will vote tomorrow in favour of Brexit,” he said in a televised statement. “The question of Gibraltar is of capital importance for Spain”.

Under the deal, EU27 leaders will adopt a statement tomorrow making clear that Spain will have a veto over any future EU-UK agreement concerning Gibraltar.

The agreement that has been brokered also includes separate assurances from the British government and the EU27 clarifying that an article in Britain’s Brexit treaty on the future EU-UK relationship does not prejudge the “territorial scope” of any agreements that might be reached.

Earlier this week, Mr Sanchez threatened to block approval for a Brexit deal unless his government had stronger guarantees about Madrid’s right to control the territory’s inclusion in a future trade agreement.

The spat arose over the interpretation of article 184 of the UK’s legally binding withdrawal treaty which says both sides will work in good faith towards a trade agreement that will form the backbone of future EU-UK relations.

On Saturday, the British government clarified in a letter to the European Council that the article “imposes no obligations regarding the territorial scope of such agreements”. The UK added it would still strive to get a bilateral trade deal covering Gibraltar.

[...]EU officials worked through the night on thrashing out the details of a solution with Madrid. The final agreement involves the UK letter, two separate statements from the EU27, as well as a letter from the presidents of the European Council and Commission, all providing assurances about Gibraltar’s status. [...]

Full article on Financial Times (subscription required)

Related article on The Guardian: Brexiters accuse May of Gibraltar betrayal ‘under cover of darkness’

[...]Sánchez immediately claimed that he would use the concession to force the British to open talks on joint sovereignty of Gibraltar, over which Spain has had a claim since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

He said: “Once the UK has left the EU, Gibraltar’s political, legal and even geographic relationship with the EU will go through Spain …

“Spain will be a fundamental pillar of the relationship between Gibraltar and the EU as a whole.

“When it comes to the future political declaration, the European council and the European Commission have backed Spain’s position, and backed it as never before.


“In these fundamental future negotiations, we’re going to have to talk about joint sovereignty and many other things with the UK.” [...]

The move sparked anger among Brexiters. Stewart Jackson, former chief of staff to ex-Brexit secretary David Davis, said: “The Gibraltar surrender may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It betrays a fundamental unwillingness to listen or even understand [May’s] own party, for whom the Rock is totemic, and is a very foolish thing to have done.

“She believes that even the worst deal is acceptable. It isn’t.”

Clare Moody, Labour’s MEP for Gibraltar, said: “What is remarkable is that Theresa May has gone to Brussels to concede further text at this stage, before we’ve even left.

“The only way to maintain Gibraltar’s status is for the UK to remain in the EU – that is why we need a ‘people’s vote’.” [...]

Full article on The Guardian

© Financial Times

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