10:11 GMT16 May 2021
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    Britain and EU After Brexit (118)

    The row over Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory that Spain claims as its own, has acquired an additional dimension after London triggered Article 50, formally announcing its decision to leave the European Union. Professor Carlos Flores Juberias told Radio Sputnik that there are two possible scenarios for the contested peninsula.

    The first one entails the UK and all British territories leaving the EU. "The UK leaves, Gibraltar leaves. Period. That's it," the analyst said, adding that there is another possibility since Gibraltar does not want to cut ties with the EU.

    "The only way Gibraltar may stay in the EU is by being Spanish territory or [if Spain and the UK have shared] sovereignty," the professor of constitutional law at the University of Valencia said. "If you don't want to discuss sovereignty or co-sovereignty, then there is no way Gibraltar can stay within the EU. From my perspective, things are very clear and the only change in the actual status of Gibraltar has been caused by the British decision to leave the EU."

    Gibraltar became part of the UK in 1713 and Madrid has tried to return the peninsula ever since. Carlos Flores Juberias confirmed that Madrid has "never withdrawn its claims" over the peninsula that locals affectionately call "the Rock."

    The professor also said that the European Union is no longer neutral when it comes to Spain's row with the UK.

    "The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union. Now we are discussing the basis for Brexit. The EU is on the one side and the UK is on the other. Of course, the EU will assume the position of Spain regarding Gibraltar because Spain is remaining in the EU and the UK is not. So the EU is not neutral anymore in the debate regarding Gibraltar. Is Spain in a position to veto the decision regarding the future or the hypothetical position of Gibraltar after Brexit? Of course, it is because we are still in the union," he said.

    For its part, the business newspaper Vzglyad described the EU's stance on the issue as "a stab in the back" of the UK.

    "Apart from its strategic location and the fact that a British Royal Navy base is situated there, Gibraltar is also an offshore zone and has major economic significance. Gibraltar's population voted nearly unilaterally (approximately 99 percent) to remain in Britain during referendums held in 1969 and 2002. The issue of Scotland's separatism which has become increasingly tense due to Brexit and the future status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland should also be taken into account. This will have an adverse effect on Britain's domestic affairs," the media outlet noted.

    The row over Gibraltar will also complicate the talks between London and Brussels, forcing the former to make concessions.

    "Respecting people's will and leaving the EU by losing three regions is a nightmare for the May government. London will make every effort to prevent this scenario from unfolding," the newspaper said.

    Britain and EU After Brexit (118)


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    territorial dispute, Brexit, European Union, Carlos Flores Juberias, Gibraltar, Spain, United Kingdom
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