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Spanish PM announces deal on Gibraltar ahead of Brexit summit

Pedro Sánchez will vote on Sunday in favor of the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal Agreement, something he had been saying he would not do due to the text’s position on the British Overseas Territory

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Cuba this week.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Cuba this week. REUTERS

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Saturday announced a political agreement on the issue of Gibraltar, within the ongoing negotiations covering “Brexit,” as the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is commonly known.

“The first thing to say is that we have achieved a joint declaration from the European Council and the European Commission that rules out Article 184 being applied to territorial issues,” he told reporters, in reference to the part of the UK’s draft Withdrawal Agreement that Spain objected to, given that it did not specifically exclude Gibraltar from talks on the future relationship between Great Britain and the EU. Spain wants to discuss the future of the British Overseas Territory – over which it holds a historic claim – on a bilateral basis and completely separate from the future EU-UK talks.

“Secondly, the British government has recognized this issue in writing,” he continued, speaking from La Moncloa prime ministerial palace. “And thirdly, the European Council and the European Commission have strengthened Spain’s position ahead of future negotiations.

“We defend national interests,” he added, explaining that the Spanish government had a responsibility to defend the situation of the inhabitants of neighboring Campo de Gibraltar, which is on Spanish soil.

Sánchez also announced that once the UK has left the EU, the political, legal and even geographical relationship of Gibraltar with the EU will “pass through Spain.”

He continued: “The agreements that affect Gibraltar must be separate deals to those that are reached with the United Kingdom by the EU. We have obtained a joint political declaration, which is a historic text, and lays out the fundamentals in writing of a new way to approach the relationship with Gibraltar on a European level.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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