Gibraltar urges MEPs to work towards ‘sensible’ Brexit

Gibraltar has roundly rejected Spain's offer of co-sovereignty. [bvi4092/Flickr]

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has called on MEPs to work towards a “sensible Brexit”, guaranteeing the Rock’s border crossing with Spain and single market access for its services industry. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Under European law, the British government’s Brexit plan would drag Gibraltar out of the European Union and the single market, along with the rest of the UK.

“Gibraltar is prepared to consider any reasonable solution to safeguard the flow of border traffic. For example, with a special relationship with the Schengen area or the establishment of a common travel or migration area between Gibraltar and the EU, subject to customs controls like those in place today,” he said, defending the system that has been in place since 1972.

The chief minister said that safeguarding the border crossing is vital to the interests of Spain.

Gibraltar and Scotland discuss staying in EU

The leaders of Gibraltar and Scotland discussed remaining within the European Union on Tuesday after a British vote to leave the bloc, a statement said.

“With only 32,000 inhabitants, Gibraltar represents 25% of GDP for the neighbouring Spanish municipalities, which have a total population of 300,000 people (…). Gibraltar’s prosperity is that of our neighbour, and vice versa,” he said.

Gibraltar and Scotland seek EU allies

Gibraltar and Scotland are looking for allies in the European Parliament to protect them against the most harmful effects of Brexit. At a Parliament hearing on Monday (30 January), the representatives from the two overwhelmingly Europhile UK territories demanded a flexible post-Brexit agreement.

Picardo and Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop explained to MEPs of the constitutional affairs committee how the future relations between London and Brussels would affect their territories, which voted massively to remain in the EU.

Hyslop called for “flexibility” regarding the single market and freedom of movement for Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU just months after deciding not to leave the UK.

Spain pleads for co-sovereignty

Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a centre-right Spanish MEP (EPP group) countered these calls for special treatment, saying “Brexit means Brexit.”

Spain steps up efforts to share control of Gibraltar after Brexit

Spain has submitted a proposal to the UN that would see it share sovereignty over Gibraltar with the UK, as the Iberian nation continues to put its card on the table regarding Brexit. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Pons challenged Picardo to decide “whether to return to Europe in Spanish hands or leave the Union as part of the UK”.

“In this divorce, the UK is leaving home and Spain is staying with its friends. The [Spanish] government has made a generous offer of co-sovereignty,” the MEP said.

Spain’s leading Socialist MEP, Ramón Jáuregui (S&D), also encouraged Picardo to opt for a “constructive” path, adding that “the EU has protected Gibraltar from a hostile neighbour”.

“This is not the way to build a path together, nor is it politically smart,” said Jáuregui, who believes this crisis “may provide an opportunity” to resolve the questions of sovereignty for Gibraltar.

The Socialist asked if the Rock’s leader would be willing to sit down with the Andalusian, Spanish and British authorities to discuss its future status and how EU law might be applied there.

After the committee hearing, Picardo told reporters there was “absolutely no chance” of Gibraltar accepting Spain’s offer of co-sovereignty.

“Believe me when I say that Gibraltar will never be Spanish and will always remain British. As British as London,” the chief minister added.

Gibraltar wants special arrangement in Brexit treaty

Although Article 50, launching the Brexit procedure, is yet to be triggered, Gibraltar has already embarked on an effort to convince the EU that the territory needs a special arrangement in the EU-UK divorce deal.

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