Recently the press is reporting that the Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, has described the draft negotiating mandate, prepared by the European Commission (EC), as “very positive in relation to Spain’s interests.” A truism that perhaps our sensitivity may lead us to exaggerate in interpreting. But we should await developments before throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Mr. Albares’ comment, coincidentally, is capable of being read with a Tweet from the Governor that he has met various UK Diplomats, on EU withdrawal and defence matters, and with a press release issued by the Government indicating that Gibexit matters are still on the rails.

These same Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) officials met, over the last 48 hours, in Gibraltar, without any prior publicity, with our Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo and members of his Gibexit negotiating team, with Mr Picardo then expressing optimism.


Mr Albares’ comment supports the views expressed by the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab and Mr. Picardo, namely that the EC draft mandate, as it stands currently, is not an acceptable basis for the UK or Gibraltar to negotiate.

The statement, however, should perhaps be understood not to undermine, and be read in the context of, his previous assurances that Spain is committed to the New Year’s Eve framework agreement. The two positions are not incompatible.

Any incompatibility that may exist between the UK and Spanish positions, may become apparent when negotiations progress. Certainly, the incompatibility does exist between the EU and UK/Gibraltar positions, as set out in the draft EC negotiating mandate.

Spain’s desire that the EU negotiating mandate should be approved soon, also, is not indicative that such approval will be to an unchanged text of the draft approved by the EC.

Further it is trite that Spain will not accept a ‘deal’ with the EU over Gibraltar that challenges its position on sovereignty; just as Gibraltar will not accept any infringement on our sovereignty status.

It is that diplomatic tightrope that all who discuss Gibraltar’s international status must walk, and have walked for decades. It is nothing new. What is new are the circumstances, namely Brexit, with the impact that will have on our current way of being and life.

Continued at link.