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THREAD: Spain may have got its way on the #Gibraltar ‘colony’ footnote but it’s worth noting a few points to cut through the ridiculous grandstanding of Spanish MEPs and media over this so-called "victory".
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory. It is on the UN list of non-self-governing territories ONLY because of outdated criteria. Twice a year, UK + Gibraltar remind UN that they enjoy a modern, non-colonial constitutional relationship based on partnership + shared goals.
The footnote has no legal effect. Gibraltar hasn’t suddenly become ‘a colony’ because of a mention in an EU document. In pushing for this, Spain has alienated + annoyed many EU partners by politicising an otherwise uncontentious regulation that sought to protect citizens.
The row was as much about the outdated use of language as it was about the European Parliament bowing down to a European Council that had itself succumbed to political interference on a crucial document. At its core, this was an institutional tussle.
Spain made the row about UK MEP @Claude_Moraes, but the reality was more nuanced. Moraes was reflecting the view of a parliamentary committee, he was not biased.
After weeks of sustained Spanish pressure, the European Parliament's LIBE committee voted today to remove Moraes by 29 votes in favour, 16 against and three abstentions. It was by no means unanimous.
The new rapporteur on the file, Bulgarian MEP @SergeiStanishev, was clear that the European Parliament committee was finally accepting the colony clause in order to protect the interests of EU and British citizens, and for no other reason.
@SergeiStanishev said: “Claude Moraes conducted excellent negotiations in first five rounds. He did his best, he put forward three different compromise proposals, mine was the fourth one, but there was no willingness whatsoever on behalf of the Council, whatever we were doing.”
“The strategy of the Council in these negotiations was a kind of brinkmanship strategy, pushing things to the edge and waiting for the committee to bow and for parliament to bow. This is not in the spirit of European cooperation,” @SergeiStanishev added.
@SergeiStanishev was not alone in his criticism. Dutch MEP @SophieintVeld said “…the way this has been handled by the Council and by the Parliament, leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.”
Julia Reid, a former UKIP MEP now with the Brexit Party, said the colony footnote was “ludicrous”. “You should be ashamed that you have allowed this report to be hijacked by the Spanish Government,” she told the committee.
Czech MEP @JezekCZ resigned as a Liberal group’s negotiator on the visa file, describing the outcome as "a humiliation of the European Parliament" and adding: “I cannot support regulations which have potential to raise tensions in Europe.”
CONCLUSION: The ‘colony row’ is not a clear-cut "victory" for Spain, whatever Spanish MEPs and media say. The good news, setting aside all the noise over this, is that neither EU nor British citizens - including those from Gibraltar - will require visas after Brexit.
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