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Montevideo, May 24th 2024 - 17:10 UTC



Gibraltar's European future might impact Falklands' status

Thursday, May 16th 2024 - 10:57 UTC
Full article 3 comments
The inclusion of Gibraltar airport in the Schengen area could compromise the British military presence The inclusion of Gibraltar airport in the Schengen area could compromise the British military presence

The future of Gibraltar and Northern Ireland after Brexit concerning Europe will be discussed Thursday at a meeting in Brussels in which the British Foreign Minister, Lord David Cameron, his Spanish colleague, José Manuel Albares, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, and the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, will participate.

Under Cameron's tenure as Prime Minister, Britain held the historic referendum whereby it decided to separate from the continental alliance, commonly known as Brexit, after which the situation of Gibraltar and Northern Ireland remained unresolved.

This Thursday's meeting will be the second of its kind. Among the sticking points in the negotiations are the rules that will govern Gibraltar's border with Spain and the European Union, and Spain's claim to greater management of the local airport. According to London media, there are fears that Lord Cameron's actions will result in concessions that erode the UK's sovereignty over an overseas territory also claimed by Spain.

“A deal should not be pursued regardless of the cost,” states a letter sent last week by Sir Bill Cash to the British minister for Gibraltar, David Rutley. The note also reveals fears that the pendulum could “swing too far in the direction of the EU.”

Earlier this week, historian David Abulafia wrote in The Telegraph that ceding part of Gibraltar's sovereignty would set a precedent that Argentina could follow with the Falklands. “Other countries could look to other British overseas territories - such as the Falkland Islands - and ask for a similar relationship to the one Spain has with Gibraltar. If an agreement were ever reached, that could mean Argentina sharing parts of British sovereign territory,” he stated.

The current negotiations over Gibraltar's picturesque airport could have unintended consequences, he explained, just days after Argentine President Javier Milei said he planned to return the Falkland Islands to Argentine administration through a “road map.”

The European Union and Spain have recently resumed their long-standing plans to make Gibraltar airport a gateway for travelers to southern Spain, which would bring it into the Schengen area. “Its distinctive identity and deep allegiance to Britain should not be altered for any reason. Its importance far outweighs its size,” said Abulafia. According to GB News, the governor of Gibraltar, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, was “aware” that several events in recent years had been “muted” to appease the Spanish.

Against this backdrop, Thursday's round of negotiations is being closely watched in the South Atlantic as it seeks an understanding that includes Gibraltar which was left out of the 2019 EU-UK trade deal. Madrid is said to be pushing for the new document to be signed before the June 6 European Parliament elections.

Gibraltar is technically outside the EU customs union, however, Madrid has granted a temporary exemption for workers and holidaymakers, which has created limbo since Brexit. Current negotiations have travel between Gibraltar and the Schengen zone in mind. For Spain to somehow manage Gibraltar airport would make it a direct access point to southern Spain and thus the Schengen zone. In addition, any joint management of the airport would adversely affect British military interests, given that the runway is shared between the commercial airport and the Royal Air Force base.

“Any role for Spain in the management of the airport or change in its status, however small or innocuous it may seem, should be ruled out,” Cash warned. “The airport and the isthmus on which it sits are of significant strategic importance, and its future cannot be jeopardized by an air services agreement for a handful of commercial flights a year to EU member states,” he added.

Top Comments

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  • Pugol-H

    The object lesson for Argentina in all this is that the Gibraltarians are an integral part of the negotiations, sitting at the table with the British, Spanish and EU and then any final agreement has to be approved by Gibraltar.

    Also there is broad agreement between all parties that a deal would be very beneficial to both sides, in fact a no deal would be a handicap to Gibraltar but an economic disaster for that part of Spain.

    The Falklands however are developing very nicely thank you, having no dealings with Argentina and in the face of economic and political sanctions imposed on them by Argentina.

    I see no benefit whatsoever in even talking to Argentina, what do they have to offer, what do they bring to the table?

    To negotiate you need two things, firstly someone to negotiate with who has the power to make decisions and secondly something to negotiate with, you have to bring something to the table.

    Argentina has neither.

    May 16th, 2024 - 01:29 pm +1
  • Juan Cervantes

    Gibraltars future status will have no impact on the Falklands what so ever, one thing they do have in common though is that they will decide their own future not any one else.

    May 16th, 2024 - 02:40 pm +1
  • Steve Potts

    The current negotiations over Gibraltar's picturesque airport could have unintended consequences, he explained...

    Joint use of airport?

    Dastis, former Spanish Foreign Minister, ‘’Spain has a claim on the area of land on which the airport is built.'' (Chronicle 25 Feb 18).

    Do the Spanish have a claim on the isthmus?

    Gibraltar – the Legal Status of the Isthmus (1 pg):

    May 16th, 2024 - 03:03 pm 0
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