Spain wants the best possible results for the Spaniards working in Gibraltar, “Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said in a press conference on Monday after receiving the European Commission’s Brexit chief negotiator in Madrid.
Michel Barnier arrived in the Spanish capital due to preparations for a two-day EU summit in Salzburg on Wednesday, as one of the key themes of the event will be the conditionality of the expiry of British membership of the European Union (Brexit).
The negotiator did not comment on the journalists’ registration on his Twitter site, but he provided full support for Spain’s negotiations with Gibraltar with Britain, which he believed should end soon.
Barnier Pedro Sánchez also spoke with Spanish Prime Minister in Madrid.
Josep Borrell in the Spanish Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee last week said Spain did not use the Brexit negotiations to demand sovereignty over Gibraltar.
As he said, a priority for the southern European country is to improve the situation of Spanish areas encircling Gibraltar with high unemployment.
However, this does not mean that Spain will renounce its historical claim to Gibraltar, but dialogue on Brexit is not the right framework for this – the Foreign Minister stressed, adding that Gibraltar can not be the “last obstacle” on the road to the Brexit agreement.
Around 10,000 Spanish people go to work in the UK area of 6.5 kilometers per day in Spain.
Prior to the British referendum on EU membership, Mariano Rajoy, the former Spanish government, suggested that if the British left the EU, Gibraltar would be joint British-Spanish, because the area could then retain access to the EU’s internal market after leaving. But this was rejected by the British from the beginning.
Last August, Alfonso Dastis, then Spanish Foreign Minister, announced that the recovery of the sovereignty of Gibraltar from Spain would not be a condition for the Brexit agreement.
Spain abolished the sovereignty over a strategic area in London in 1713, in the Treaty of Utrecht ending the Spanish War of Succession, but since then Spanish governments have repeatedly questioned the validity of the treaty.