Spain's acting foreign minister insists on joint sovereignty to mitigate Brexit effects
Spain’s acting foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, held a meeting with the mayors of the seven municipalities in the Campo de Gibraltar on Tuesday to discuss the consequences of Brexit for the area.
It came as no surprise that his main focus was joint sovereignty with the UK over Gibraltar, which he insists is the only way the Rock could remain as part of the EU. “They cannot be British and still remain in the EU. That would be impossible,” he said, stressing that if Britain refused to accept joint sovereignty then the border between Gibraltar and Spain would become an external one as soon as Brexit occurred, and the four freedoms of the EU would cease immediately.
Margallo said the people of Gibraltar need to change their “mental habits” and accept Spain’s proposal for joint sovereignty because it would be beneficial for them. In contrast to comments in the past indicating that he would never hold direct discussions with representatives of Gibraltar, the minister told the mayors of Tarifa, Algeciras, Los Barrios, La Línea, San Roque, Castellar and Jimena de la Frontera that he is “completely open” to “informal, discreet and secret” conversations with “some people from Gibraltar” to negotiate joint sovereignty. Spain has indicated, however, that it sees joint sovereignty as a temporary measure before attaining full sovereignty of the Rock.
Despite Margallo’s insistence on Tuesday that this would be the way forward for the Campo de Gibraltar as well because the border with Spain would disappear, the mayors did not appear to be convinced that Gibraltar would accept the proposal and stressed the need for cross-border cooperation, dialogue and good relations. They are concerned about the effect of Brexit on the 10,000 Spanish people who cross the border to work every day.
Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, stressed again this week that the joint sovereignty proposal will never be considered, and that the Gibraltar government is exploring every possibility of maintaining links with the EU after Brexit.source surinenglish