Why Spain’s Threat to Hold Up Brexit Over Gibraltar Is Theater

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17
Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17 (European Council)

Spain has demanded greater clarity on the status of Gibraltar before signing off on the treaty that is meant to regulate Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.

“We want the interpretation to be clear in that text that the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU will not apply to Gibraltar,” Josep Borrell, the Spanish foreign minister, said on Monday.

Here is why his demand is a bit of a dud. Read more “Why Spain’s Threat to Hold Up Brexit Over Gibraltar Is Theater”

The Spanish Right’s Gibraltar Hypocrisy

View of the Rock of Gibraltar from the territory's airport, September 29, 2015
View of the Rock of Gibraltar from the territory’s airport, September 29, 2015 (Shutterstock/Nigel Jarvis)

When Spain’s conservative People’s Party was in power, it promised not to exploit Britain’s exit from the EU to renegotiate the status of Gibraltar.

Now that the party is out of power, it blames the ruling Socialists for failing to do just that. Read more “The Spanish Right’s Gibraltar Hypocrisy”

Good, Bad and Ugly in Trump’s Drug Plan, Corbyn Parrots Russian Talking Points

Republican officials, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017
Republican officials, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

Politico reports that Donald Trump is eying common-sense drug reforms — as well as the death penalty for drug dealers.

Here is the good, bad and ugly in the president’s plan to fight America’s opioid epidemic. Read more “Good, Bad and Ugly in Trump’s Drug Plan, Corbyn Parrots Russian Talking Points”

Macron Breaks Taboo, Spain Makes Gibraltar Demands

French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16, 2017
French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16, 2017 (La Moncloa)

Emmanuel Macron touched one third rail of French politics and didn’t die: labor reform. Now he is grabbing the other: agriculture.

French farmers rely heavily on EU agricultural subsidies and are generally less innovative (defenders would say more traditional) than their peers in Germany and the Netherlands, the two largest exporters of agricultural goods in Europe.

Macron has already opened the door to subsidy reform, arguing that, due to Brexit, cuts are inevitable.

At the same time, he has promised €5 billion in public investments to kickstart a “cultural revolution” in the sector.

That may not be enough to convince skeptical farmers while cutting EU subsidies will run into opposition from Italy, Poland and Spain. But it’s a start. Read more “Macron Breaks Taboo, Spain Makes Gibraltar Demands”

Spain Promises Not to Hold Brexit Hostage to Gibraltar

Gibraltar
View of Gibraltar at dusk (Shutterstock/Philip Lange)

Spain will not hold the Brexit negotiations hostage to discussions about Gibraltar, the country’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, has told ABC newspaper:

I do not want to jeopardize an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom by subjecting it to a need to alter Gibraltar’s status at the same time.

Dastis did say he hopes the Gibraltarians will consider sharing sovereignty with Spain, but his statement appears to be a climb down.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy earlier said he would not allow Gibraltar to remain in the European single market if Britain leaves.

A European Council negotiation document published by the Financial Times read that “no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

This was interpreted in Britain as giving Spain a veto over the terms of its exit. Read more “Spain Promises Not to Hold Brexit Hostage to Gibraltar”

Brexit Is an Opportunity to Take Back Control — For Spain

The Rock of Gibraltar, April 6, 2016
The Rock of Gibraltar, April 6, 2016 (Scott Wylie)

When Brexiteers said leaving the EU would be a chance to “take back control”, they probably weren’t thinking of Spain. But Spain has been thinking about them.

Now that the United Kingdom has formally triggered its exit from the bloc, Spaniards smell an opportunity to take back control of a territory they ceded to Britain three centuries ago: Gibraltar. Read more “Brexit Is an Opportunity to Take Back Control — For Spain”

Spain Unwilling to Keep Gibraltar in Single Market After Brexit

Prime Ministers Mariano Rajoy of Spain and Theresa May of the United Kingdom meet in Madrid, October 13
Prime Ministers Mariano Rajoy of Spain and Theresa May of the United Kingdom meet in Madrid, October 13 (La Moncloa)

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June, Spain has ramped its rhetoric surrounding the territory of Gibraltar, a sliver of land that has been in British hands for centuries but to which Spain continues to claim sovereignty.

Earlier this month, the acting foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, threatened to “put up the flag” on the Rock, hinting at a Spanish takeover.

He insisted that if Britain leaves the EU, “Gibraltar is out” as well, even though 96 percent of its residents voted to stay. Read more “Spain Unwilling to Keep Gibraltar in Single Market After Brexit”

Gibraltar and Scotland in Talks to Stay in European Union

View of Gibraltar at dusk
View of Gibraltar at dusk (Shutterstock/Philip Lange)

Gibraltar is in talks with Scotland to find a way for both to stay in the European Union, the BBC has learned.

One possibility under discussion is for Gibraltar and Scotland, which both voted to stay in the EU, to maintain the United Kingdom’s membership of the bloc.

Northern Ireland, which also voted to remain, could potentially be included in the talks.

Majorities in England and Wales voted in a referendum on Thursday to leave the EU. Read more “Gibraltar and Scotland in Talks to Stay in European Union”

Britain Threatens Legal Action as Warship Sails for Gibraltar

Gibraltar
View of the Spanish city of Ceuta from Gibraltar, January 30, 2011 (José Rambaud)

Britain warned Spain on Monday that it was prepared to take legal action to force it to abandoned tighter border controls near Gibraltar in what was described as an “unprecedented” step against a European ally.

Earlier in the day, the British warship HMS Westminster set sail for the British enclave as part of an annual military exercise in the Mediterranean while Spain’s El País newspaper reported that the government in Madrid might enlist its former colony Argentina at the United Nations to contest Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

Argentina disputes British control of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. Read more “Britain Threatens Legal Action as Warship Sails for Gibraltar”

British-Spanish Relations Sour After Gibraltar Incursion

View of Gibraltar at dusk
View of Gibraltar at dusk (Shutterstock/Philip Lange)

In part of its ongoing dispute with the Spanish government over the sovereignty status of Gibraltar, Spain’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Federico Trillo-Figueroa, was summoned to the Foreign Office before the weekend for what was undoubtedly a heated exchange.

The redress was in reaction to a recent naval incident wherein a civilian vessel from Gibraltar was almost seized by the Armada Española and Spanish customs officials, were it not for the intervention of the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Europe Minister David Lidington explained on Thursday that Britain had “repeatedly made diplomatic protests to Spain over attempts by Spanish state authorities to exercise jurisdiction in British Gibraltar territorial waters.” He condemned Spain’s “provocative incursions” and urged its government “to ensure that they are not repeated.”

The minister furnished other details of the latest incident, reporting that a Spanish “warship” took a tour of Gibraltar’s territorial waters for some time, followed by the arrival of Spanish customs vessels seeking to intercept the civilian boat. Read more “British-Spanish Relations Sour After Gibraltar Incursion”