Sánchez unblocks Brexit deal

Spanish prime minister lifts the veto on the agreement and announces that Spain will have “direct negotiations” with London over Gibraltar in the future

Satisfied with the commitments from EU member states and the UK regarding Gibraltar, Pedro Sánchez’s government yesterday lifted its veto of the Brexit agreement. All week, Spain had threatened to boycott today’s summit to green light the pact over Britain’s divorce from the European Union. At the last moment, Madrid decided to bury the hatchet after seeing the pledges made by London and Brussels, leaving the way clear for the holding of a high level meeting on Brexit.

Sánchez was in a victorious mood, explaining yesterday that Brussels and London had accepted his government’s demands, which means that “the relationship between Gibraltar and the European Union” will always require Madrid’s approval. It is actually a guarantee that already exists, because the agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, including the Rock, requires the unanimous approval of all 27 member states.

However, with this extra guarantee, the Spanish socialists yesterday congratulated themselves on being able to “negotiate directly on Gibraltar with the United Kingdom.” According to Madrid, the agreement is “historic” because “it lays the basis, in writing, for a new way of tackling the relationship” with the Rock. According to the Spanish prime minister, any “political, legal and even geographical relationship” of Gibraltar with the EU “will have to go through Spain.”

As for the EU and its member states, they stated that “Gibraltar will not be included in the territorial reach of the [future] agreements between the bloc and the British. Yet, they do not rule out a “separate agreement” regarding the Rock. In any case, Brussels grants Spain the ability to veto any EU pact concerning Gibraltar.

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