Row over Gibraltar: Brexit deal rescued

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had threatened to block the Brexit deal until in the last minute the EU backed Madrid, agreeing that Gibraltar will be left out of all negotiations between the UK and the EU and any decisions will require Madrid's consent. But Spanish media are less than enthusiastic.

Open/close all quotes (ES) /

A political comedy

The agreement on Gibraltar is not a true diplomatic success, writes

“Prime Minister Sánchez is right to claim this as a political victory. He says that it clarifies any confusion and repeats that the EU can't negotiate on Gibraltar without Spain's consent. Theresa May is right to say that nothing has changed, because everything still depends on the political will of the British government and it is and will remain at zero. And you are right if you think that we've gone back and forwards over and over again without really getting anywhere, because that is exactly what has happened. ... But at least it was entertaining for a while.”

El País (ES) /

Nothing but an unworthy tax haven

El País wonders at all the commotion the tiny peninsula has repeatedly caused:

“In the current geopolitical configuration Gibraltar is nothing but the pathetic residue of the ambitions of long extinct European empires. Its only true significance lies in its unworthy status as a tax haven, which explains its wealth and the jobs it is able to offer the people who live in the surrounding area. As long as the international community tolerates the international tax havens Gibraltar will continue to be relevant for Spain's labour market. ... Any agreement that guarantees these jobs is a good agreement, but nothing more.”

The Sun (GB) /

Hands off our Rock!

The Sun is appalled by Spain's insistence on having veto rights regarding Gibraltar:

“Gibraltar, meanwhile, is inhabited by British people who vote, every time, that they very much want to remain British. The Spanish have no greater claim on Gibraltar than they do on Portugal. But that's not all. The behaviour of the Spanish is yet another reason why we should be glad to be rid of the EU. Yet another gobby, bankrupt, mismanaged country trying to tell us what to do. … The UK being dictated to by Spain is a bit like El Salvador telling the US what it can and can't do. … We should tell the Spanish that the status of Gibraltar will never be negotiable so long as a majority of its citizens wish to remain British.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Why Spain won't let go of Gibraltar

Anyone who believes Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez just wants to divert attention from domestic problems with the Gibraltar issue is mistaken, explains Der Standard:

“When he talks about the 'essence of our nation' in connection with Gibraltar, he really means it. In Spain there are taboo topics that no one - at least no one in the big parties - can or wants to touch. The claim to Gibraltar is one of them, as is defending the monarchy and Spain's national unity. ... These are eternal values that often hamper politics in Madrid. Only those who understand this also understand why Madrid has been unable to find a solution to another conflict, namely Catalonian independence. The eternal Spain also stands in the way of a mutually agreed referendum.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

May should also use chance to renegotiate

The Brexit agreement is not carved in stone, The Daily Telegraph comments:

“It is only natural for those involved in a negotiation to want to keep pushing for more concessions until the very last minute before the deal is signed. ...With Spain and the rest of the EU27 still demanding more from the deal, Mrs May should not stop fighting the UK's corner. Making out that the deal is set in stone while the EU tries to rewrite it in their favour would be a dereliction of duty. As keen as the Prime Minister might be to pocket her draft deal so she can get on with selling it, if she doesn't keep pressing her case, she will end up with a worse version agreed for her to sell.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Spain's late insight

El Mundo angrily complains that Spain has been so slow to defend its interests in Gibraltar:

“If May survives until Sunday 20 countries which represent 65 percent of the EU's population will decide on the Brexit agreement. With or without Spain. Gibraltar, a colony and de facto tax haven, has been left hanging on the wing of an Article 184 [of the Brexit agreement that doesn't foresee bilateral negotiations on the issue] that has existed since the text was made known. Now, a week later, [Prime Minister] Sánchez and [Foreign Minister] Borrell have suddenly started shouting, gesticulating, demanding guarantees - after having had ample opportunity to put the issue on the agenda during the negotiations. Or wasn't there a single Spaniard on the negotiating team?”

Blog David McWilliams (IE) /

British isolationism is a chance for Ireland

Ireland should welcome the investors and businesses that have been scared off by Brexit with open arms, economist and blogger David McWilliams recommends:

“Now with Brexit, the UK is providing us with another opportunity to reinforce the impression of an open, free-trading, welcoming, savvy country unencumbered by the self-deluding, nationalist myth of specialness. Brexit is an act of aggression against globalisation. Investors won't forget that. … Compared to the UK, Ireland looks like an oasis of sanity. As such, Brexit provides Ireland with an unsurpassed commercial opportunity, and we should seize it with both hands. If we don't, someone else will.”