, 14 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1) How much of a threat is the Spain/Gibraltar question to the #Brexit summit on Sunday? This issue has the potential to be either a) huge or b) to disappear in to a puff of smoke
2) Spain feels hoodwinked. Gibraltar is of huge national interest (and hurt pride) for many Spaniards. Many at the very least saw an opportunity with #Brexit to gain considerable influence over the Rock
3) At the beginning of #Brexit negotiations Spain was promised that no decisions could be taken over the future of Gibraltar without consultation with Spain which is why throughout the negotiations process, there have been bilateral Spain-U.K. talks in parallel
4) BUT when EU-U.K. talks reached an impasse over the Irish border backstop, Barnier and his team proposed going into a ‘tunnel’ - blocking out political and media noise to maximise chances of sealing a deal. It is in that tunnel time that Spain feels it was ‘betrayed’
5) Suddenly the Irish backstop became a U.K.-wide customs area - meaning it was potentially straying in to post-#Brexit trade deal territory. Neither there in that text, nor in the draft of the political declaration on EU-UK future relations was there mention of Gibraltar
6) Spain feels its positive attitude in the EU-U.K. bilateral talks was now being taken for granted and that their concerns over Gibraltar were being ‘sacrificed’ to give an extra something to the U.K. in negotiations. The European Commission denies this
7) But Spain is not alone in feeling that their national interests were ignored during ‘tunnel’ negotiations. France, Denmark and the Netherlands feel let down by their EU negotiators over pinning down ongoing fishing rights in U.K. waters after #Brexit for example
8) Spanish PM Sanchez is hugely pro-European. Sees himself as a bit of a Macron #2. It’s not in his nature to scupper EU plans or an EU summit. Remember when Italy’s Salvini refusedto taken in migrant boats, Sanchez was the first to volunteer help BUT
9) He’s under a lot of domestic pressure over Gibraltar and he heads a minority government. It’s just possible he’s learned from Salvini - if you dig in your heels in the EU, you can get results. Remember the EU thought it possible to hold the #Brexit summit in December instead..
10) The Commission thinks this can be solved without reopening the #Brexit texts by noting Spain’s insistence on continuing U.K.-Madrid bilateral talks regarding post-Brexit relations in a declaration added to the texts or other EU formulas
11) It’s certainly important to know the issue will be solved ahead of Sunday. Spain doesn’t have an actual veto over the divorce deal in the sense that EU leaders don’t vote on issues as such BUT
12) EU leaders make decisions by consensus. There is no way they can sign off this Sunday on a text designed for a leaving member (UK) when an existing member (Spain) is so strongly opposed
13) There is less EU solidarity with Spain over Gibraltar than there is with Ireland over the border BUT the EU has been so proud about unity amongst its member over #Brexit They wont want to give that up at this late stage in the divorce process
14) The veto Spain has on Sunday is moral/political and therefore effective if it gets that far. Also remember - bitterness over Gibraltar, fishing rights etc are obstacles the U.K. will face after #Brexit in negotiating a trade deal with EU which ALL member states need to ratify
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