The Speaker
Saturday, 18 May 2024 – 11:59

Why Spain could stop Theresa May’s Brexit deal

The draft Brexit deal is supposed to be formalised this Sunday when EU member states vote on it at an extraordinary summit. However, Spain is putting pressure on Brussels and threatening to put its veto in, with the country wanting to directly negotiate with the United Kingdom about the fate of Gibraltar.

The Spanish government criticizes the draft agreement for not writing that it will have a veto right on future negotiations concerning the enclave.

Future control of Gibraltar, a seven-square-kilometer British enclave in southern Spain, is being questioned by Brexit. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez threatened on Thursday to block the Brexit agreement if Spain was being out of the negotiations.

In the agreement, Gibraltar has a special protocol (same for Cyprus and Northern Ireland).  It guarantees the free movement of 14,000 cross-border workers during the transition period and already provides for the creation of three bilateral commissions regarding six main issues: customs cooperation, the rights of cross-border workers, fisheries, the fight against tobacco smuggling, the environment, tax, and police.

Although nearly 14 000 Spanish citizens are working in Gibraltar, Madrid will no longer be forced to open its border after the Brexit. Then, the Spanish government could put pressure on the enclave that she accused of being a tax haven and tolerating tobacco smuggling. The PM said, “To date, I regret to say that a country as pro-European as Spain will vote, if there is no change, no to Brexit.”

Spain closing its border with Gibraltar is however unlikely. It is a way to ask the enclave for financial transparency, the use of its airport and an increase in their tobacco prices since they are considerably lower than in Spain.

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