The Spanish government has confirmed it is ready to do a deal with the UK over the future EU status of Gibraltar.
According to euro-news agency Europa Press, Spain’s new Foreign Affairs Minister Alfonso Dastis has resurrected the idea of co-sovereignty with the UK, which would allow the rock to maintain its EU links.
The co-sovereignty idea was first floated in 2002, but stalled after Gibraltarians rejected it in a non-binding referendum.
The June 23rd decision by the UK to leave the EU has re-ignited the issue of Gibraltar, whose inhabitants voted to remain. The Spanish government is keen to resume bi-lateral talks that have lain dormant for over a decade.
Speaking on December 21st, Alfonso Dastis said: “Any disposition in the Brexit process that could affect Gibraltar on its relationship with the EU must be object of an agreement between both, the UK and Spain.”
The Spanish have already made clear they view the UK as one entity within the context of Brexit. Several officials, including Dastis, have insisted if the UK leaves the EU, Gibraltar leaves with it. However the door has now been left open for a special deal for Gibraltar.
Despite describing co-sovereignty with the UK as the best option if Gibraltar wants to remain within the EU, Dastis has suggested Spain may be willing to compromise even if the UK declines to discuss such a proposal.
The appointment of Dastis in November as a replacement for José Manuel García-Margallo was seen as a softening of Spain’s stance in relation to Gibraltar. García-Margallo had previously insisted Gibraltar would not be included in any Brexit discussions unless the UK government conceded the possibility of co-sovereignty.
The Spanish have though made clear that any special EU deal for Gibraltar as part of the Brexit process will only be possible as part of a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain.
Despite some Scottish media reports suggesting Spain is flatly opposed to a special EU deal for Scotland. The apparent contradictory stance in relation to Gibraltar suggests the Spanish government’s stance in relation to Scotland may not be as intransigent as it is being portrayed.Views: 16687
[With thanks to Pilar Fernández for translating the original Europa Press article]