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Sanchez reaffirms commitment to Gib treaty in speech to UN

Spain’s caretaker Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar during an address on Thursday to the United Nations General Assembly.

As he does every year, Mr Sanchez dedicated a few paragraphs to Gibraltar during a wide-ranging address reflecting on key international issues for Spain including climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Sanchez reminded the assembly of the “bilateral understanding” between the UK and Spain reached on December 31, 2020, a reference to the framework agreement that underpins the negotiation.

As is normal in these addresses, he underlined the traditional Spanish position on Gibraltar but said too that Spain wanted a UK/EU agreement on the Rock’s post-Brexit relationship with the bloc.

“On December 31, 2020, Spain and the United Kingdom reached a bilateral understanding concerning Gibraltar, within the framework of the UK's exit from the European Union,” Mr Sanchez said.

“We have worked intensively since then to ensure that this understanding laid the foundation for a future relationship of this territory with the EU, trusting that an agreement between the EU and the UK regarding Gibraltar can be reached as soon as possible.”

“For us, this agreement must fully respect the United Nations doctrine on this territory, with which Spain fully aligns. And it must also be respectful of the legal position of my country regarding sovereignty and jurisdiction in relation to it.”

“We wish to work for the development of a prosperous, social, and economic area that encompasses all of Gibraltar and also the Campo de Gibraltar.”

Formal rounds of negotiation toward a treaty have been on hold since Spain’s inconclusive general election last July and will not resume until there is a new government in Madrid and Gibraltar concludes its own general election on October 12.

Spain’s Partido Popular won the most votes in the election but fell short of the absolute majority required to form government, even with the support of the far-right party Vox.

The PP leader, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, will next week attempt a bid to be invested as Prime Minister but is expected to fail.

That would allow Mr Sanchez to attempt to form government, but in order to succeed he will need support from smaller independentist parties – in particular the Catalan party Junts per Catalunya led by the exiled Carles Puigdemont - whose demands are proving controversial.

If Mr Sanchez fails in his bid, Spain will need to hold a general election again.

Yesterday, a poll conducted by Spain’s Centre for Sociological Investigation – CIS, by its Spanish acronym – predicted the Socialists would win by nearly 2% if Spain went to the polls again.

CIS polls were heavily criticised in the run-up to the July vote, bucking the trends in all other polls and reflecting more support for PSOE when other pollsters were predicting a PP/Vox government.

In the event, the CIS poll was closest to the final results.

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