Spain to maintain Gibraltar veto right in new Brexit deal

The agreement announced on Thursday by the European Union and the United Kingdom respects arrangements secured a year ago by Madrid regarding the British overseas territory

The new Brexit deal does not modify arrangements regarding Gibraltar.
The new Brexit deal does not modify arrangements regarding Gibraltar.Javier Fergo / AP

Spain will maintain its veto right over Gibraltar in the new draft Brexit deal announced by the United Kingdom and the European Union on Thursday.

The arrangements secured a year ago by Spain regarding the British overseas territory, located in the south of the Iberian peninsula, remain intact according to both EU and Spanish government sources.

According to these arrangements, any future agreements on the relationship between the UK and the EU will only apply to Gibraltar if both London and Madrid agree to them. Spain will continue to have veto rights, as stated in the political declaration that came with the earlier withdrawal agreement, and which is not being modified in this most recent draft deal.

Overseas communities

Another major issue in bilateral relations – the rights of the 360,000 British nationals living in Spain and 180,000 Spaniards residing in the UK – also remains unchanged. Spain is home to the largest British community outside the UK, and if the new Brexit deal is ratified, all European residents in Britain will preserve their rights while Britons living in the EU will keep theirs. The withdrawal agreement protects access to healthcare, education and work permits, among other advantages.

If the new withdrawal agreement is ratified, there will be no need for Madrid to activate a contingency plan it approved in March to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Also left untouched are four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed in November 2018 addressing the rights of crossborder workers (more than 9,000 Spaniards cross into Gibraltar every day), the price of tobacco products in Gibraltar, environmental issues, and cooperation on police and border matters. Still pending is a tax treaty to end unfair competition from Gibraltar, which offers very advantageous conditions for registered businesses.


If an orderly exit is achieved, Iberia, which is part of the British group IAG, will benefit from the same current conditions at the very least during the transitional period from Britain’s departure and the signing of a deal on the future relationship between Brussels and London. After that, the group will have to prove that Iberia is over 50% controlled by EU nationals in order to retain its flying rights in the bloc. Officials at IAG note that Iberia’s headquarters are in Madrid and that the company pays taxes in Spain, but EU rules stipulate that a majority of capital must be EU-based as well.

English version by Susana Urra.

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