Spain recognizes the difficulty of reaching a joint sovereignty agreement over Gibraltar following Brexit, its newly appointed Foreign Minister has said in an interview with leading Spanish newspaper El Pais.Gibraltar Brexit Spain
Alfonso Dastis admitted that an agreement of co-sovereignty between the two countries is unlikely, if the UK opposes the issue: “I think you have to be realistic, if the United Kingdom does not want to negotiate it will be difficult to carry it forward.”
The remarks made on Sunday, in what was Mr Dastis’ first interview as Foreign Minister, represent a slight shift in Spain’s stance over the issue. Until now Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government, which was re-elected at the end of October, has remained firm in its intention to jointly govern Gibraltar with the UK via a co-sovereignty agreement following last summer’s Brexit vote. In fact, former Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, a proponent of full Spanish control over Gibraltar, took a hardline position, repeatedly asserting Spain’s intention to have joint sovereignty.
Dastis did, however, add that permission from Spain would be necessary if Gibraltar attempted to have a separate agreement from the UK and maintain links with the EU, saying: “It would have to be consulted with us. That will require a bilateral agreement between Spain and the United Kingdom.”
Officially a British territory since 1713, the small peninsula on Spain’s south coast has long been a source of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations with tensions reaching new heights in the aftermath of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Gibraltar’s leader, Fabian Picardo concerned about access to the single market, deemed vital to the services-based economy, and Spain posing a threat to its only land border with the continent, has repeatedly warned that Britain leaving the EU would be a disaster for the territory.Gibraltar Brexit Spain
With official UK-EU negotiations expected to start in March this year, many UK expats living in Gibraltar anxiously await to see how Brexit will impact their situation. Although it’s not clear whether this latest development will inspire some optimism from expats, one thing is for sure the issue will continue to make the headlines until a formal agreement is reached, but when this will be no one knows.
Gibraltar Brexit Spain