The last hurdle to an agreement between London and the 27 EU countries on Brexit has been overcome. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Saturday that Spain has obtained “an agreement on Gibraltar”, a British territory at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, over which Spain claims sovereignty. “Spain has lifted its veto and will vote in favor of Brexit,” announced Sanchez in a statement live on television.
After intense negotiations between the two countries and Brussels, the British government said it was favorable to discussions with Spain about Gibraltar after Brexit. “With regard to the withdrawal negotiations, given certain circumstances in Gibraltar, we had discussions with Spain directly involving the Government of Gibraltar,” a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement. These were constructive, and we look forward to adopting the same approach for future relations.”
Spain has received written guarantees from the European Union that it will have a veto over any future agreement between the EU and the UK regarding Gibraltar. And Madrid also believes that it has received sufficient assurances from the British authorities that future London agreements with the EU would not automatically include Gibraltar. “I am proud that Gibraltar is British, I will always be on the side of Gibraltar,” said Mrs May to reporters in Brussels, assuring that the position of the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of the territory “has not changed and will will not change .
In recent days, Madrid threatened to veto the agreement on Brexit, casting doubt on the holding of the European summit scheduled for Sunday. The Spanish government demanded a veto on the application of any future agreement between the EU and London in Gibraltar. “If there is no agreement [about the territory], it is clear that what will happen is that the European Council will most likely not be held”, Pedro Sanchez warned on Friday.
Madrid has never officially renounced its historical claims on Gibraltar, a British colony of less than 7 km2, ceded in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht.
However, Spain is not pushing to recover its sovereignty over Gibraltar, especially since 98 percent of its electorate reject a proposal for UK-Spanish co-sovereignty of ‘the Rock’ in 2002.