EuroDiplomat has been analyzing with great interest the Brexit. Although much has been said with regards to the political and economic consequences of this political initiative, it should be noted that Gibraltar, a British territory bordering Spain, will also have to undergo changes.
The EU has authorized Spain to veto questions regarding Gibraltar. The imbroglio shall escalate as Spain is demanding to play an active role in the management of the territory’s airport. Why all of sudden? Well, the airport is likely to be expanded soon, therefore British authorities will have to strike a deal in the near future. These talks began forty years ago, however, the Brexit just spiced up the situation.
London already stressed that the divorce vis-à-vis the EU should also entail the departure of Gibraltar. But if this wish becomes a reality, it will unleash another set of problems. The main one? The border between the British territory and Gibraltar will become an external border. Okay, this is will not be a blockade as the one imposed for 17 years during Franco’s dictatorship, but will require the set up of tight border controls. Does it ring a bell? Yeah, a similar debate is taking place about Northern Ireland, which by the way did not receive the same privilege to have a veto power.
Gibraltar’s economy relies on the access to the single market, flow of goods and individuals is extremely important for the British overseas territory. However, it should be noted that Gibraltarians are extremely attached to their Crown, 98 percent of citizens prefer to remain British than seeking any other type of arrangement with Spain. During the Brexit vote, the territory voted massively to remain within the EU.
The reasonable solution might be to sign a treaty similar to the ones put in place for French territories. Gibraltar could receive the status microstates such as Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City and Andorra. This way the overseas territory would be deprived of voting powers, but would still have access to common goods provided by the EU.