Gibraltar: Morton discusses priorities in post-Brexit relations
The move comes as the UK is negotiating its position with the EU over the Northern Ireland border, which some say could distract dialogue away from the attention of the Rock. Agustin Santos, Spanish Ambassador to the United Nations, told the Committee: “Spain understands that the negotiations that must lead to the effective decolonisation of Gibraltar can only take place with full respect for international law and within the framework of the doctrine established by the United Nations.”
But the senior diplomat went on to criticise the UK over its attention to the situation, saying: “Unfortunately, the administering power of Gibraltar, the United Kingdom, has ignored the doctrine of this organisation.”
Mr Santos went on to say: “On rare occasions, Spain’s willingness to negotiate has met with a positive response from the United Kingdom.”
Britain and Spain came to a bilateral understanding over Gibraltar in December 2020 in order to lay the foundations for a future agreement between London and Brussels over the fate of the strategic Rock.
Mr Santos said: “The ultimate objective of this understanding is the creation of an area of shared prosperity… nothing in this understanding, nor any action or measure taken in application or as a result it, implies the modification in any way of Spain’s legal position regarding sovereignty and jurisdiction in relation to Gibraltar.”
Gibraltar always an issue for Britain and Spain
Spanish Foreign Minister has visited the area
Spain has reassured local leaders that a solution will be found
Adding to the notion that the Northern Ireland situation is running concurrently with that of Gibraltar, the ambassador said: “They are two different negotiations and there shouldn’t be any collision between them.”
He stated that that the Spanish government is “prepared for any eventuality, but plan A is to reach a beneficial agreement for all before the end of the year.”
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has been touring the region and provinces adjoining Gibraltar, conveying to local leaders that the Spanish government is seeking to obtain a satisfactory conclusion in the negotiations with the UK and EU, aiming for an area of shared “prosperity and development.”
A hard border could be devastating to local workers
Last July, the UK told the EU to “think again” over the bloc’s plans for the rock.
Former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at the time: “It seeks to undermine the UK’s sovereignty over Gibraltar, and cannot form a basis for negotiation.”
He went on to say: “We have consistently shown pragmatism and flexibility in the search for arrangements that work for all sides, and we are disappointed that this has not been reciprocated. We urge the EU to think again.”
Failure to reach a satisfactory conclusion to the talks could see a ‘hard border’ appear between Gibraltar and Spain. This could become a logistical nightmare for the nearly 10,000 Spaniards who cross over to work each day.
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Over 95 percent in Gibraltar voted to remain in the EU
The European Commission, which oversees regulations in the EU, could demand Spain start carrying out the kind of checks on passengers at La Verja, (as the border is known locally), in a manner similar to that of other external borders.
During the referendum, the people of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, with a staggering 95.9 percent choosing to stay, while only 4.1 percent polled to leave the EU, by far the highest demand to stay in the EU per region in the referendum.
With Brexit raising a host of issues surrounding British territory, from Northern Ireland to Gibraltar, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez used his time on the podium at the UN General Assembly last month to take advantage of the complications.
Argentina are putting pressure on Britain over the Falkland Islands, known as Las Malvinas
Speaking of several islands in the Southern Atlantic, Mr Fernandez said: “Legitimate and imprescriptible sovereignty rights over the Malvinas, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces that make up part of the Argentine national territory need to be reclaimed.”
Speaking of the British presence in the region he said: “These territories have been illegally occupied by the UK for more than 188 years.”
What now remains to be seen is how the situation across all territories will be resolved, with the Northern Ireland Protocol potentially the first to set the tone for other British claimed territories in both Europe, and beyond.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega