UK and Gib play down claims on Rock and future negotiation
The UK and Gibraltar governments this weekend played down a newspaper report that claimed Spain would demand a final say on any deal that included Gibraltar as the UK and EU negotiate their future relationship, insisting the article revealed nothing new.
The Observer newspaper said Spain has insisted on a reference to the Rock in the EU’s opening negotiating position, which will be published in draft form today.
“They have in principle asked that the new relationship not apply to Gibraltar without the explicit consent of Spain, which will only be given if the bilateral talks with Spain and the UK over the rock are resolved,” a senior EU diplomat told the newspaper.
As an EU member state, the UK had been able to resist Spanish claims over Gibraltar but the newspaper said Madrid will now have the full support of the other 26 countries in the bloc.
The UK Government was swift to respond to the report.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The UK will not exclude Gibraltar from our negotiations in relation to our future relationship with the EU. We will negotiate on behalf of the whole UK family, which includes Gibraltar.”
For its part, the Gibraltar Government said the report merely restated the EU and Spain’s well-known position since 2016.
“The statement from the EU [diplomat] is no surprise,” Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said.
“It reflects the position the EU has taken from day one and the position they agreed in November 2018.”
“That is simply being repeated now.”
“There is no reason for any alarm therefore, as we have seen this language coming for a year and a half.”
“The UK Government expressed its firm commitment that Gibraltar will not be excluded from the UK’s negotiations in relation to its future relationship with the EU.”
“The UK will be negotiating on behalf of the whole UK family, which includes Gibraltar.”
“So I am not at all concerned by this ‘leak’ of something agreed and published 16 months ago, when the UK also expressed it contrary position.”