The rights of the over 33,000 inhabitants of Gibraltar, between British and European, and those of the 13,000 cross-border workers, over 8,000 Spaniards, are at risk. The Brexit negotiators on both sides continue to turn the screws and use threats as bargaining chips.
The European Union recently stated that Spain will have to authorise the implementation in Gibraltar of the future agreements reached with the UK once it has left the EU.
The response from Gibralatar’s government has been another warning, which the UK daily The Guardian has published today: Gibraltar warns that it could rescind the rights of the European citizens who live there if finally Spain uses its veto to avoid Gibraltar being included in the Brexit agreements. In addition to revising the status of those EU citizens who enjoy a certain degree of protection in the area, the Gibraltarian government is also opening the door to stopping paying the pensions of Spaniards who worked there before the frontier was closed in 1969.
According to clause 24 of the April guidelines “after the UK leaves the EU, no agreement between the EU and the UK can be applied to the territory of Gibraltar without an agreement between Spain and the UK.”
Gibraltar’s deputy chief minister, Joseph Garcia, believes that this clause represents an illegal veto and has already warned that if necessary “we will challenge the courts.”
The almost unanimous wish of the Gibraltarians to remain in the UE makes it difficult for them to fit into Brexit. That said, there are proposals for an exit which benefits everyone, and are far removed from threats. For example, two reports prepared by the Real Instituto Elcano propose following the models of Andorra and the Islands of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, which would be a “blurred” co-sovereignity.
It would be a case of turning the colony into an autonomous, but not independent territory, linked to the British and Spanish crowns, without a fence, with a special tax system and still belonging to the EU after the UK leaves.
Another “flexible” solution mentioned in this report is that of Büsingen and Campione d’Italia, territories with German and Italian sovereignity, respectively, but nestling in Switzerland, which has included them in its customs area, its health system and sporting competitions. The majority of daily issues, like police, currency, education or public transport, is shared between the two countries.
For the Instituto Real Elcano’s researchers, neither of these tree options would be on their own a satisfactory solution, but rather a combination of all three.
*Image: Flickr /Manuel Vilela