Gibraltar MEPs step up pressure over Brexit deal

MEPs who represent Gibraltar have attacked “political posturing” by Spain over the draft Brexit deal.

A row over Gibraltar and its post-Brexit role partly overshadowed the run up to last Sunday’s  EU summit.

 Molly Scott Cato, a Greens MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, entered the fray, telling this site: ‘It has been clear since the referendum that the decision to leave the European Union has left the people I represent in Gibraltar especially vulnerable. Spain asserted its power at the beginning of the negotiations and has now made another aggressive move again towards their end.”

She added, “With so little detail about the future relationship between the UK and EU - and none of it legally enforceable - I am not reassured that Gibraltarians have the security they deserve. The best path for the people of Gibraltar - and, I believe, all the people of the UK - is to hold a People’s Vote and to reverse the destructive decision to leave the EU.’ 

 Further comment to the current impasse over Gibraltar came from Ashley Fox, Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar.

Fox, who is also leader of the UK Conservative delegation, told this site, “"I suspect this last minute political posturing from Madrid is more a response to domestic pressure than a serious attempt to change the Withdrawal Agreement. Nevertheless, it is unhelpful and contrasts with the constructive bilateral talks of recent months.

 "For the avoidance of doubt,  the UK will insist  that Gibraltar is included in negotiations on the future relationship."

Madrid says that it would not tolerate Gibraltar, a disputed territory, benefiting from agreements made in the talks without Spain’s consent.

The UK has been accused of introducing a clause into the withdrawal agreement that would ensure Gibraltar was covered by a future trade deal negotiated with Brussels.

The Gibraltar row comes after the UK and the EU reached an agreement on a draft text of the ‘Political Declaration’ for their future relationship.

The 26-page document expands on the shorter ‘Outline Political Declaration’ published alongside the draft Withdrawal Agreement last week, and aims to establish “the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defence and wider areas of cooperation.”

The future relationship, it adds, must “be consistent with the Union’s principles, in particular with respect to the integrity of the single market and the Customs Union and the indivisibility of the four freedoms,” while also “respecting the result of the 2016 referendum including with regard to the development of its independent trade policy and the ending of free movement of people.”

European Council President, Donald Tusk said that the deal “has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders.

Meanwhile, Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland and vice-chair of the European Parliament’s internal market and consumer protection committee, has highlighted a less publicised issue, that of fishing rights.

She said:“This Brexit deal is a lose-lose situation for the UK and the EU.If no fisheries agreement is struck by 2020, EU boats will not have access to our waters – but at the same time, we will not have access to the EU markets for our most important catches. “There is no such thing as a good Brexit deal, but any hope of securing a lasting relationship hinges on the UK dropping its red lines on freedom of movement, allowing our economy to grow in the process.”

Stihler added, “But rather than go through all this pain, the decision on whether we still want to leave the EU should be put back into the public’s hands through a people’s vote.”

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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