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Spain rejects EU offer to create separate declaration on Gibraltar after Brexit

The Spanish government has reiterated its threat to veto the Withdrawal Agreement if the position of the British Overseas Territory is not clarified

Brexit
Two women at the border of Gibraltar. REUTERS

Spain has rejected an offer from the European Union to create a declaration to clarify the situation of Gibraltar after the United Kingdom leaves the EU in the process commonly known as “Brexit.”

The government of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said it will vote against Withdrawal Agreement at the summit on Sunday unless it clarifies the position of Gibraltar, the contested British Overseas Territory located in the south of Spain.

Given how the situation is now, we maintain the veto

La Moncloa

Spain wants to change the agreement to make it clear that future negotiations on The Rock are not included in the pact. Specifically, it is asking for a clause in the Withdrawal Agreement (known as Article 184) to be modified so that it leaves no doubt that negotiations with Gibraltar are separate from the Withdrawal Agreement, and are subject to bilateral talks between London and Madrid.

According to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Marco Aguiriano, in an effort to appease Spain’s concerns, the EU and the UK offered to create a document that would clarify the position of Gibraltar after Brexit. This document would be separate from the withdrawal agreement.

“The 27 [EU member states] and the European Commission, without disagreements, have offered a packet that aims to meet with the demands and objectives of the Spanish government,” said Aguiriano on Friday after meeting with the delegations from the 27 EU countries and the team of EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Spain wants to change the agreement to make it clear that future negotiations on The Rock are not included in the pact

But the proposal has not had the desired effect.

“Given how the situation is now, we maintain the veto,” said sources from La Moncloa, the Spanish seat of government, after the proposal was made. “This is a subject of national interest. The former government was not ambitious enough in the negotiation,” they added.

Although the Brexit deal could still secure passage with a qualified majority despite opposition from Spain, sources from the Spanish government said it would be “unthinkable” for the withdrawal agreement to go ahead “without the consensus of the 27.” They also warned that “if the political declaration is not unanimous, there is no declaration,” alluding to a draft text on the future relationship that will also be voted on Sunday.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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