NOT a lot of people know this yet, but the EU has scored a monumental own goal when it gave in to Spanish pressure to exclude Gibraltar from post-Brexit agreements between the Union and the UK.

I refer to the leaked draft letter which the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, hopes to send the British Prime Minister.

'OWN GOAL': Donald Tusk has handed Fabian Picardo keys to Downing Street
‘OWN GOAL’: Donald Tusk has handed Fabian Picardo keys to Downing Street

I shall explain.

There are 27 remaining Member States and countless regions within them who, to some extent or another, have links with the UK.

The North Sea and fishing and prospecting rights immediately come to mind. Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Holland all have special interests in this.

There are hundreds of other examples of greater or lesser degrees in agriculture, industry and employment.

Yet, on any reading of the draft response by Mr Tusk, the only interest meriting EU attention in an otherwise short, 22 paragraph letter, is… Spain’s ambition to annex Gibraltar.

Mr Tusk, born in Gdansk, which is now part of Poland but used to be German – indeed his father fought for the Wermacht, surely does not realise the continental-sized blunder that he has made (I mention his place of birth  because of its similarities to Gibraltar in terms of territorial claims).

Let me explain further about the blunder.

To give an effective post-Brexit veto to Spain on Gibraltar is guaranteed to irritate other Member States who will claim, with good reason, that their interests are as important as those claimed by Spain.

Near the beginning of the draft letter, President Tusk writes: “In these negotiations the Union will act as one”. How can he say this, and in the same document agree to give a post-Brexit veto to a single country?

It does not take a an expert in negotiating agreements to conclude that the veto blows a gaping hole under the EU’s negotiation waterline.

It makes a nonsense of the claim that “the Union will act as one”.

It sets a precedent which will come back to haunt Mr Tusk’s successor (I expect, given his performance, that he will soon be replaced or resign).

By ‘picking on’ Gibraltar, the hapless Mr Tusk has wreaked even more damage on the EU by effectively bringing the law relating to European citizenship into derision and disrepute.

Article 20 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that: “Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union.”

Now, I know that there is an argument that once a Member State leaves the EU, its citizens lose EU Citizenship. I do not agree, but this is not the time to discuss that. It will soon become a topic of major debate.

What is clear, beyond any doubt is that today Gibraltarians (and indeed all UK nationals) still have European Citizenship.

BRITISH:
BLUNDER: EU handing Spain veto will irritate other member states

Mr Tusk betrays the whole edifice of European integration by discriminating against the group of EU Citizens living in Gibraltar.

He discriminates against us by making an exception to the territory in which we live (indeed in which our people have lived for more than 300 years).

This is what the offending paragraph says (and mark that it is one of only 22 paragraphs, not one of thousands or even hundreds):

“After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

So, if European citizens can be so thoughtlessly disadvantaged, what is the value of European citizenship?

Mr Tusk and his associates clearly don’t think that it is worth anything. Perhaps their mindsets are affected by the way in which entire populations were sold out in Mr Tusk’s own back yard in the 1940s, where Polish towns became German and vice-versa, without a single thought given to the inhabitants.

Maybe this ‘mindset’ shows why the EU is doomed to failure.

Many of us in the British Isles and Southern Europe just do not think in the same way as the German dominated bureaucracy of which Mr Tusk is a chief executive.

At the June 23 2016 referendum, 96% of the Gibraltarians voted to remain in the EU. They could not have expected this blundering betrayal. Now that we can see the reality of the EU, the ‘European Project’ has become an object of revulsion among us.

Over the weekend of the leak, I was approached by a couple of gentlemen in a bar who, knowing that I am a lawyer, asked what penalty they would suffer if they tore down the EU flags that fly around Gibraltar.

As a supporter of the rule of law, I of course said that that would be illegal and they should not do so.

However, their sentiment reflects the catastrophic damage that Mr Tusk has done to the image of the EU in Gibraltar.

That Spanish MEPs would try to use Brexit to damage Gibraltar was as predictable as it is to say that fish stinks after a few days when left in the open air.

I think that on this occasion, the ever-alert Spanish lobby in the corridors of European power may have gone too far. The weekend of the April 1, 2017 will be remembered as the day that Spanish diplomacy gave Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Madrid’s triumphalism is, for all the reasons described above, completely misplaced.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This article is full of nonsense.

    “To give an effective post-Brexit veto to Spain on Gibraltar ..”

    But he hasn’t done that. Spain has a veto. It didn’t need Tusk to give it one.

    “Near the beginning of the draft letter, President Tusk writes: “In these negotiations the Union will act as one”. How can he say this, and in the same document agree to give a post-Brexit veto to a single country?”

    Because that isn’t what he’s done.

    “By ‘picking on’ Gibraltar, the hapless Mr Tusk has wreaked even more damage on the EU by effectively bringing the law relating to European citizenship into derision and disrepute.”

    He hasn’t picked on Gib. Spain has. That is regrettable (to say the least), but the one thing it isn’t is surprising.

    “This is what the offending paragraph says (and mark that it is one of only 22 paragraphs, not one of thousands or even hundreds):

    “After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

    So, if European citizens can be so thoughtlessly disadvantaged, what is the value of European citizenship?”

    Because the discrimination that Gibraltarians will suffer will be the result of no longer being in the EU. Blame leave voters.

    “Mr Tusk and his associates clearly don’t think that it is worth anything. Perhaps their mindsets are affected by the way in which entire populations were sold out in Mr Tusk’s own back yard in the 1940’s, where Polish towns became German and vice-versa, without a single thought given to the inhabitants.”

    Silly, juvenile claptrap. Tusk is from Poland. I think the history of that country might lead him to have a more than adequate appreciation of democracy.

    “At the June 23 2016 referendum, 96% of the Gibraltarians voted to remain in the EU. They could not have expected this blundering betrayal. Now that we can see the reality of the EU, the ‘European Project’ has become an object of revulsion among us.”

    It was entirely foreseeable that Spain would take advantage of brexit in this way.

  2. Dear Mr Hughes, Your comment makes no sense. If Spain already had a veto why bother to include the veto in the letter which Mr Gomez has brought to our attention? At least you acknowledge that Gibraltarians are being discriminated against by the EU. First the Gibraltarians and then the rest of us. I tend to agree with Mr Gomez that this shabby behaviour is a poor reflection of the EU and I am sure that when the draft letter is looked at again the chapter about Gibraltar will be removed because it makes a mockery of everything that the EU says it stands for. I want to take the opportunity of congratulating Mr Gomez for his astute analysis. He is a delight to read.

  3. Mr Hughes talks about an adequate appreciation of democracy. Can he not appreciate the democracy of a UK referendum result? Once again the “blame it on the leave voters” mantra is regurgitated whenever the EU make irrational statements on the outcome of negotiations without any evidence to support these statements. Does he really think that, should an agreement be tabled that is advantageous to both the EU and the UK, that 26 states will tolerate a veto by one state based solely on its selfish ambition toward Gibraltar?
    To suggest that Gibraltar has not been discriminated against under EU membership and that remaining in the EU will somehow protect Gibraltar from Spain’s actions is niaive in the extreme. In the past 15 years I haven’t seen any decline in Spanish incursions by sea and air despite numerous protests, to the EU, by HM government. The border remains to be throttled by Madrid whenever the fancy takes it. Despite frequent inspections by EU officials, nothing has been done to improve access to Spain.

    As for Tusk and Juncker, their recents rants alone should lead us to question the wisdom of remaining attached to an institution lead by people of that mentality.

    Mr Hughes’ comments contain vast chunks of quotations from Mr Gomez’ article peppered with his snippets of unsubstatiated critisism.

    Perhaps it’s about time that we all stopped playing the blame game, accept the fact that we are leaving the EU and show some solidarity to obtain the best result possible.

    • Ah yes, the “blame game”.

      It’s about time that leavers accepted that their choice has consequences.

      It was entirely foreseeable that Spain would use brexit to cause Gib problems. Spain shouldn’t do that, but no-one should be surprised that she does. Without brexit, she would have much less chance to cause problems, so quite how the leavers can be absolved of this is beyond me.

      But I suppose that is leaver logic – blame others for the entirely foreseeable consequences of leaving, and react with hostility to those others, or to anyone who points this out.

      • Do you hear yourself David? Punished for leaving? As if we were in a prison and had no right to leave.. As if Gibraltar or even the U.K. deserves to be punished for leaving a club that dictates to its own members and cripples others?

        Suddenly freedom of choice is a bad thing…

        Take it easy Goebbles