SPAIN has threatened to veto Brexit in a desperate bid to carve out Gibraltar from any future trade deal involving the European Union and United Kingdom.
Madrid has used ministers and diplomats to question the Rock’s status in any future trade partnership in an eleventh hour bid to make changes to Theresa May’s controversial withdrawal agreement. Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been forced to field questions from the Spanish in a number of crunch meetings since drafts of Britain’s EU divorce package were published last Wednesday. Spain has argued that the joint EU-UK document has deviated from an agreement made last year to ensure Madrid and London must have a separate deal to ensure Gibraltar is covered by any future trading relationship.
Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell has demanded the political declaration on the future relationship makes clear that negotiations over Gibraltar are outside the scope of the EU.
Mrs May’s Government “has said that it will not approve the withdrawal agreement until it has the future relationship; well, it’s the same for us: until we know what it says, we will not approve the withdrawal agreement,” Mr Borrell told reporters in Brussels.
During a separate radio interview, the Spaniard said gaining EU27 approval for the withdrawal agreement may “not be as peaceful as it seems”.
Much of Madrid’s arguments surrounds two separate articles in the 585-page withdrawal treaty.
Article 3, which sets out the territorial scope of the United Kingdom, and how it relates to Article 184, commits the UK and EU to best endeavours on signing a future trading partnership.
Spain believes there should be legal clarification in the withdrawal agreement to make clear that Gibraltar’s future relationship must be dealt with separately by Madrid and London, as set out in guidelines published in March 2017.
The guidelines read: “After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom."