Gibraltar border ‘won’t change too much’ post Brexit, Dastis says
Spain’s border with Gibraltar “won’t suffer too many changes” after Brexit, though Gibraltarians may face “a few more inconveniences” in the future, Spain’s Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, said yesterday.
Speaking on COPE radio, Sr Dastis said the border was already subject to controls on people and goods and that these would continue.
But he insisted the Spanish approach would be “pragmatic and constructive”.
“The controls will continue, but we are not going to threaten with anything special,” he said.
Even so, “…it’s foreseeable that it won’t be exactly the same and they could have a few more inconveniences than they currently have.”
Sr Dastis noted that once outside the EU, British nationals in Gibraltar – or elsewhere, for that matter – will not enjoy the freedom of movement or establishment they currently have under EU law.
Instead, they will be subject to whatever new regime is agreed by the UK within the Brexit negotiations.
In separate statements to the Spanish parliament on Wednesday, Sr Dastis said his government would not seek to impose anything on Gibraltar “by force”, though he cautioned Spain would oppose any Brexit agreement that prejudiced its core position on sovereignty.
“Any decision to extend to Gibraltar any measure or agreement stemming from the future framework of relations between the UK and the EU will need Spain’s consent and will have to be the subject of an agreement between the two countries,” he said.
“We will not accept any measure that prejudices the Spanish position in the controversy over sovereignty or which results in maintaining certain elements of Gibraltar’s economic activity toward the EU which prejudice Spanish interests in a serious and disproportionate manner.”
The Spanish minister also set out some of Spain’s red lines in the Brexit negotiation.
“Gibraltar applies a degree of fiscal and environmental dumping that we will not tolerate,” he said.
“There are aspects of the relationship, such as the question of the airport on territory that wasn’t ceded under the Treaty of Utrecht, which we cannot accept.”
“And we will have to take all of this into account when it comes to designing a solution.”
“If, within the context of designing that solution, the UK accepts the generous co-sovereignty proposal we have already made then all the better, but if they don’t want to then we are not going to impose anything by force.”
Sr Dastis also issued a message of calm for Spanish cross-border workers, insisting that their “rights and interests” would be “…safeguarded and defended in this negotiation.”
The UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, also highlighted cross-border movement during an interview with the state-owned Spanish news agency EFE, adding that ensuring continued fluidity must be a priority in the Brexit negotiations.
“For the moment, nothing has changed [but] it is of the utmost importance that we put citizens first,” Mr Manley said.
Asked how Brexit could impact on Gibraltar, the ambassador advocated preserving a “fluid passage” between Spain and the Rock.
“The Gibraltarian people rejected the idea of joint sovereignty but we must work to ensure a fluid passage for the thousands of people who work every day in Gibraltar,” he said.
“We want to ensure that Gibraltar’s economy and society continue to flourish,” Manley added.