Published: Tue, November 20, 2018

Spain won't back Brexit deal without clarity on Gibraltar, says Spanish minister

Spain won't back Brexit deal without clarity on Gibraltar, says Spanish minister

Contrary to the Spanish government's frustration with the plans, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday that there had been broad agreement with the draft withdrawal deal.

"It's a period which I believe is essential for the United Kingdom, for its preparations or the creation, of its bureaucracy, in certain areas, such as for businesses, but it's also a period where we don't know what will happen, because it has to be negotiated".

"Until we have the future declaration and we know what it says, whether we agree or not, we are not going to approve the withdrawal agreement either", Borrell said.

Foreign minister Josep Borrell insisted that talks about the territory were "separate negotiations".

"We want the interpretation of that clause to be clarified", he said.

Noting how Spain was obliged to accept British positions on Gibraltar when it was negotiating its 1986 accession to the bloc, a decade after Britain had joined, a senior European Union official said London now had to accept that "the tables have turned".

An exceptional Brexit summit will take place in Brussels this Sunday (25 November), attempting to reach consensus on the agreement, which, with Spain's stance on Gibraltar becoming clear on Monday, may be more hard than was thought at first to achieve.


In London, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The draft withdrawal agreement agreed last week covers Gibraltar".

Spain said last week that it welcomed the inclusion of a protocol on Gibraltar in the draft Brexit agreement, but Mr Borrell said that the document introduced "a certain confusion" on the issue.

"The PM has been clear that we will not exclude Gibraltar, and the other overseas territories and the crown dependences from our negotiations on the future relationship".

The divorce deal sets up a new UK-Spanish oversight committee to manage ties across the border after Brexit.

These discussions commenced under the Partido Popular Government in March and were continued by the incoming PSOE administration as from June.

"It has no place in the modern Europe of today at a time when both the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are trying to build a new positive future relationship with the European Union".

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