Spain set to gain veto over Gibraltar’s status in EU Brexit talks 


EU Council rules give Spain veto on British overseas territory of Gibraltar

AFTER BREXIT, ANY UK-EU DEAL will only apply to the overseas territory of Gibraltar if it gains the explicit agreement of the Kingdom of Spain. 

The draft guidelines for Brexit talks – published today (Friday 31 March) by the EU Council – include a warning that a Spanish veto will be written in to any future deals on issues like trade and free movement in relation to the British overseas territory. 

Both the UK and Spanish Governments have a frosty relationship over the sovereignty of the strategically placed rock that sits by the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea. The Spanish Government wants ‘joint sovereignty’ over Gibraltar, which was claimed by British forces over 300 years ago. 

Read more – 4 ways triggering Brexit has launched the UK into constitutional chaos

However, Gibraltar’s people have repeatedly voted to remain a British overseas territory – and voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU over concerns Brexit could impact the relationship with Spain. 

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 a divorce Brexit deal will be decided by ‘qualified majority voting’, a full trade agreement between the UK and EU becomes far more complicated. A trade deal must be ratified in all 27 European Union capitals. The guidelines on Gibraltar suggest a further bilateral process between Spain and the UK would be required for the status of Gibraltar.

The status of Gibraltar compounds UK constitutional challenges including the break-down of devolution in the North of Ireland, and calls for a fresh referendum on independence in Scotland.

Picture courtesy of Chris Goldberg

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