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EU council ducks thorny veto question

The EU Council has dodged a question on the controversial Spanish veto over the application of any future UK/EU trade deal to Gibraltar in the European Parliament.

The inclusion of the clause in draft guidelines published by Council president Donald Tusk earlier this year caused outrage here as the Council appeared to grant Spain an additional veto over the Rock’s inclusion in any Brexit deal, despite the UK Government’s insistence that the Rock’s future is part of the wider negotiations.

The issue was probed by Italian MEP Isabella De Monte, who tabled a written question before the EU Parliament.

She questioned the legal basis on which Spain had been granted a special right of ‘veto’ or at least a differentiated right in comparison with all the other EU Member States.

But the answer offered little by way of explanation.

“It is not for the Council to provide legal opinions,” was the response from the Council.

On March 29, 2017 the European Council received a notification from the United Kingdom of its intention to leave the EU.

The following month the EU Council adopted the guidelines for the negotiations under Article 50 TEU, which also indicated the positions and general principles that the Union would espouse during the negotiations.

Clause 24 of the Council decision stipulated that: “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.”

However, and as Ms De Monte flagged, all Member States have equal status within the EU and any differences require a specific legal basis in the Treaties.

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