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It's Rock-Solid: 'Co-Sovereignty or Nothing' for Gibraltar, Says Spain

CC0 / / Gibraltar
Gibraltar - Sputnik International
While the UK ramps up its "hard Brexit" rhetoric and puts Article 50 on the agenda for discussion in Brussels, Spain is offering Gibraltar a separate solution on the future sovereignty of The Rock.

According to the Gibraltar Chronicle, one option is co-sovereignty with Spain after the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo claimed to have had "confidential" talks on co-sovereignty with "personalities" on The Rock — although the reports in Spanish media didn't reveal exactly who.

​"Those conversations have already started, but of course they are absolutely confidential and what they aim to do it establish what the scenarios are," Garcia-Margallo reportedly said.

Garcia-Margallo apparently insisted that joint sovereignty was the only viable option for Gibraltar if it wanted to keep access to the European Union market.

However, the official line from the Gibraltar government is that other alternatives are possible. Chief Minister Fabian Picardo says he believes he can negotiate different Brexit terms than the rest of the UK.

​Spain however, says its co-sovereignty or nothing.

This would mean joint responsibility for Gibraltar's external foreign relations to be managed between Madrid and The Rock if the British Overseas Territory is to have access the EU single market. Co-sovereignty also includes joint responsibility for defense and border control.

King Felipe VI of Spain addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. - Sputnik International
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The majority of the 30,000 people living in Gibraltar are British citizens and hold British passports, however thousands of Spaniards cross the bridge from mainland Spain ever day in order to work there. Gibraltar, like Scotland, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU

In a referendum in 2002, 99 percent of Gibraltarians voted against holding joint sovereignty with Spain, which Spain still claims over the enclave.

According to Spain's foreign minister, "Gibraltar would become a third country for the EU, there is no other solution."

However, news that Spain is seeking to take joint control of Gibraltar comes as no surprise. In the run-up to the UK's referendum on its membership of the EU, Garcia-Margallo told the 30,000 residents of The Rock that Brexit could yet see the Spanish flag flown on Gibraltar.

​Daniel Feetham, leader of the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), told the Gibraltar Chronicle that the focus was to work with the UK to make sure it isn't excluded from any deals negotiated between Britain and the EU.

​A statement from the GSD said: "There is nothing in what Sr Margallo said in Algeciras…that can be attractive to the Gibraltarian."

Daniel Feedham said: "The GSD has always stood for dialogue on both sides of the frontier but never at the price of joint sovereignty."

However, the Gibraltar government says it's too premature for Mr. Feedham to "write off any future EU option for Gibraltar" just yet, according to the Gibraltar Chronicle,

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