Spanish Govt seeks PP support for ‘vitally important’ Gib treaty

The UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar is “of vital importance” to Spain and its relations with the EU, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Monday, as he urged the conservative Partido Popular to support efforts to reach agreement.

Mr Albares was speaking during a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Spanish congress, during which he touched on Gibraltar in a session dominated by global affairs including the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East.

In his opening statement, Mr Albares repeated the same position he had set out before on numerous occasions, offering no insight into remaining areas of disagreement.

The Gibraltar negotiation is “a matter of vital importance for Spain in its relations with the European Union”, Mr Albares said.

“Spain has presented a comprehensive, balanced and generous proposal to create a shared prosperity zone between Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar that would allow the free movement of people and goods, the physical removal of the fence, and the joint use of the airport, as I have publicly stated on various occasions,” he said.

“Spain is ready to sign the agreement and today I ask for your support in this regard.”

“We are currently awaiting the response from the United Kingdom.”

Carlos Floriano, the PP spokesman in the committee, expressed scepticism on hearing the references to Gibraltar and said: “I don't know how many times you have announced an imminent agreement to us.”

He said Mr Albares was “very keen to make history” with the Gibraltar treaty but questioned whether Spain would end up “handing over Gibraltar” instead of defending the interests of the Spanish people.

That in turn drew a stern response from Mr Albares, who challenged the PP spokesman to set out his party’s view on the issue.

“To the spokesperson of the Partido Popular, I ask again explicitly: Do you support the Government so that we can reach an agreement?” Mr Albares said.

“You would make history if you speak out, because I have been trying to get [the PP] to speak out, and you do not speak out.”

He dismissed Mr Floriano’s comments about his political ambition and said the issue was less about making history and more about the “250,000 Spaniards in the Campo de Gibraltar and their interests”, which he said were best protected by a treaty that enabled shared prosperity between Gibraltar and the Campo.

“And it is evident, and I have also said it on many occasions, that this agreement does not at all diminish Spain's claim to sovereignty,” Mr Albares added.

“I have said it many times, but I reiterate it again today.”

“And I wanted to know today if, with these propositions, you accept the handed extended [by the Spanish Government] so that together we can achieve a mutually beneficial agreement for the Spaniards of the Campo de Gibraltar.”

Mr Floriano was blunt in reply: “Can you send me the agreement document offered to the United Kingdom regarding Gibraltar? The document, not your words.”

Mr Albares, in closing the session, said the PP spokesman was “lacking information”.

“I am willing to sit down with you whenever you want and discuss that agreement for Gibraltar and for the Campo de Gibraltar, and give you all the details,” he said.

“The agreement will not be completely closed until we have the approval of the United Kingdom. And as I always say, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

“But if you want to know any detail, I offer to sit down with you and talk about it, because, certainly, it would be good if you supported this agreement, not just politically good, but good for the 250,000 inhabitants of the Campo de Gibraltar.”