Spain has said it will formally propose to the European Union that the question of Gibraltar be treated separately when it negotiates Britain’s exit. The acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo reminded journalists in Spain that when Britain leaves all EU treaties will stop applying to the Rock.
The Gibraltar government replied that García Margallo was no expert in EU law, had an undemocratic attitude towards Gibraltarians and revealed the British Government had already guaranteed that Gibraltar would be “fully involved” in the process in the event of a UK exit from the EU, in the same way as Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland would be involved.
García Margallo reiterated Spain will formally propose joint sovereignty, insisting this is the only solution for Gibraltar to remain in Europe, as the referendum result proves it wants. He explained this would be for a specified period of time with Gibraltarians able to keep their British nationality and economic and fiscal regime.
It is a generous offer, which make perfect business sense, and described the possibility of Scotland and Gibraltar negotiating their own status as a midsummer night’s dream.
Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo reminded the minister that Gibraltarians had rejected joint sovereignty in 2002 and that excluding Gibraltar from talks about its future in the EU would be undemocratic.
”García-Margallo’s unhealthy obsession with Gibraltar, which voted by 96% to remain in the EU, was risking the livelihoods of cross-border workers. The minister should take careful note that an overwhelming majority of the people of Gibraltar rejected the very principle of shared sovereignty in 2002,” Mr Picardo said.
“This remains the position of the Government and of the people of Gibraltar to this day.”
“In setting this condition as his personal criteria for Gibraltar to remain in the EU, he knows that this has already been rejected out of hand and that it will never happen.” “Therefore Mr García Margallo, with his unhealthy obsession about Gibraltar, is putting at risk the jobs of thousands of his countrymen who live in Spain and are employed in Gibraltar and who depend on the EU principle of freedom of movement to get from home to work every day.”
García-Margallo reiterated his comments in a press conference after meeting his Argentine counterpart, Susana Malcorra, and discussing the possibility of a joint strategy on Gibraltar and the Falklands in the wake of Brexit.
He said Spain would call on the EU in September, once the UK has a new Prime Minister, to prevent Gibraltar being included in any negotiation ahead of withdrawal from the EU. “The UK and the EU have nothing to discuss on this issue,” he said. “This is a bilateral matter between the UK and Spain.”
Picardo replied that the people of Gibraltar had voted by 96% to remain in the EU and that this should be “a source of pride” for anyone who believed in the European project. The Gibraltarians had delivered this mandate and that was why the Gibraltar Government was exploring options to remain in the EU.
No 6 Convent Place said that, given the precedent set by Denmark and Greenland, it was “perfectly possible” for a part of an EU Member State to remain in the bloc while and another part left.
It said that in the context of the UK, this could mean that UK remained inside but its constituent parts were redefined to include Scotland, Gibraltar, London and any other region that voted to remain.
There would be no exit for Gibraltar and no need to renegotiate the terms of a new relationship with the EU because these would not change, the government argued.