Saturday

17th Apr 2021

EU rounds wagons in Gibraltar dispute

  • “We’re very happy to reaffirm our support” (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission has put its “full support” behind giving Spain a veto on the economic future of Gibraltar.

Commission spokesman Margiritis Schinas said on Monday (3 April) that veto, as proposed by the European Council last week, had “the full backing of the European Commission, of president Juncker and of Michel Barnier, let there be no doubt about that”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He said the Commission president and Barnier, its Brexit negotiator, had “worked closely” on the EU guidelines for Brexit that included the veto.

“We’re very happy to reaffirm our support”, he said.

The EU foreign service chief, Federica Mogherini, declined to get involved, saying Brexit wold not be a foreign policy issue until the UK left the bloc.

The spectacle of the EU institutions and the 27 remaining member states taking a common line against an outgoing member is a first in EU history.

It has also seen some British politicians lose their temper, with Spain, also on Monday, urging a more civil approach.

"The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain, a country known for its composure”, Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said at a conference in Madrid.

He spoke after Michael Howard, a former head of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, said on Sunday the UK would go to war with Spain if it threatened Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

British prime minister Theresa May made light of his remarks on Monday.

She told reporters on a flight to Jordan that the issue would be solved via dialogue, including with Spain, and not through confrontation. “It’s definitely jaw-jaw,” she said, according to The Guardian, a British newspaper.

Boris Johnson, the British foreign minister, was less joky at an EU meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. “The sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged and is not going to change," he said.

May’s spokesman the same day in London declined to criticise Howard and said the former Tory chief had merely tried to show Britain’s “resolve” on the matter.

Fabian Picardo, the Gibraltar chief minister, also tried to keep tension high.

He called EU Council chief Donald Tusk, who signed the EU guidelines “a cuckolded husband who is taking it out on the children” in an interview with Reuters.

“This is clear Spanish bullying … quite pernicious”, he said.

Brexit talks turn ugly on Gibraltar

Britain has said Spain can have no new powers over Gibraltar, as Brexit prompts hard talk on sovereignty, security, and borders.

EU guidelines set out two-phase Brexit talks

According to the draft negotiating guidelines, the EU-27 would open negotiations on future EU-UK relations when "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights, the British financial bill and the status of the border in Ireland.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit: Between a rock and a hard place

As EU commission chief Juncker put it, "everybody will lose" if pig-headed nationalism in the UK and the EU led to a messy and expensive divorce. The controversy over Gibraltar doesn't bode well.

Safety fears suspend work for EU staff at Northern Irish ports

The issue will be discussed on Wednesday at a video conference between EU Commission vice president Maroš Šefcovic, British cabinet minister Michael Gove, Northern Ireland's first minister Arlene Foster, and deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us