Gibraltar will have to live “with its back to the European Union” if it rejects Spain’s joint sovereignty proposal, the country’s Foreign Minister warned yesterday, even as he accepted “there will be life outside” the bloc.
Alfonso Dastis Quecedo said the only way for Gibraltar to have a post-Brexit relationship with the EU would be through a bilateral deal between the UK and Spain.
But he also acknowledged the UK’s commitment to Gibraltar and said there would be no agreement on joint sovereignty unless Gibraltarians agreed.
Sr Dastis defended the co-sovereignty proposal made by his predecessor in the post, José Manuel García-Margallo, and described it as a “reasonable, generous” offer, even while accepting it had little prospect of success.
“We believe that what we are offering is in the interests of those who currently inhabit Gibraltar,” he said.
“We are also conscious that the United Kingdom will not accept it if it does not have the backing of the Gibraltarians.”
“We are conscious of that. I am a realist.”
Spain’s Foreign Minister was addressing senators in the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Spanish Senate, which is chaired by the mayor of Algeciras and Partido Popular senator, José Ignacio Landaluce.
Yesterday’s intervention followed an earlier appearance before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Spanish Congress a fortnight ago.
During a wide-ranging three-hour session, the minister echoed earlier statements and said Spain had an “aspiration” over the sovereignty of “the colony” of Gibraltar.
But he said that in the face of Brexit, the Spanish Government’s main focus in this region was on protecting the interests of cross-border workers and on the socio-economic wellbeing of the Campo de Gibraltar as a whole.
“If the United Kingdom and the inhabitants of Gibraltar don’t want [joint sovereignty], then they will have to live with their backs to the European Union,” he said.
“If they want to have a relationship with the European Union after Brexit, they will have to include Spain and it will have to involve a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain.”
“If they don’t want it, well I’m sure there will be life outside the EU, but that is their decision.”
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