BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Spain was standing between Theresa May and a Brexit deal because it threatened to derail an EU summit on Sunday if it doesn’t get new assurances on having a say in the way forward for Gibraltar.
FILE PHOTO – Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech throughout a go to to Havana, Cuba, November 23, 2018. Fernando Calvo/Moncloa/Handout by way of Reuters
As talks amongst Spanish, British and EU officers continued on Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez mentioned he was prepared to thwart his British counterpart May’s hopes of seeing EU leaders log off on guarantees of shut ties with London after Britain leaves the bloc in March if he didn’t get his way.
EU diplomats and officers mentioned there was nonetheless no clear breakthrough on Saturday morning, hours earlier than among the different leaders should set off for Brussels forward of Sunday’s breakfast summit — few will likely be joyful if plans change.
Brussels diplomats and representatives of different governments throughout Europe mentioned they didn’t imagine Madrid would upset the cautious choreography of Sunday’s summitry, when May and her 27 EU friends will fly in for a few hours within the morning. But in addition they heard robust phrases from Spanish ministers that left them unwilling to name Sanchez’s bluff with out additional talks.
On a go to to Cuba, Sanchez mentioned he had but to obtain assurances that any future selections on Gibraltar could be determined in direct talks between London and Madrid.
“The guarantees are still not enough and Spain maintains its veto to Brexit. If there is a deal, then it will be lifted,” he mentioned when it was already late on Friday in Europe. “If there is no deal … the European Council will most likely not take place.”
Spain can anticipate its European allies to swing extra clearly behind its 300-year-old claims to sovereignty over “The Rock”, a British naval base on its southern coast that’s dwelling to some 30,000 individuals whose financial system faces main questions after Brexit.
But calls for that in depth treaty documentation just lately agreed between Brussels and London be tweaked to give Spain a much bigger say over its implementation in regard to Gibraltar face resistance from Britain and EU allies who’re cautious that the entire edifice of the long-negotiated deal may unravel.
Diplomats mentioned there was no doubting the eagerness behind the Spanish arguments when advisers to the 27 EU leaders met in Brussels on Friday to put together the summit: “The Spanish are very proud people and this is absolutely important for them,” one participant within the talks instructed Reuters.
“We have to have a solution. I am quite sure we will have one.”
Some in Brussels stress that Sanchez is preventing a regional election in Andalusia, the province that abuts Gibraltar, subsequent weekend and might want to play up the difficulty for dwelling consumption.
For him to drive the cancellation of the summit, or drag it out past the morning, would incur the wrath of his friends.
May is due to meet EU chief government Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT), and diplomats say that needs to be the second they verify that the Gibraltar subject is settled. May will then meet summit chair Donald Tusk.
In Germany, a authorities spokesman was assured an answer could be present in time for Sunday’s summit.
Berlin had earlier mentioned there could possibly be no extra technical negotiations on the summit, and that Chancellor Angela Merkel might skip it if all of the texts will not be prepared upfront.
The greatest impediment to the Brexit accord general is the vehement opposition within the British parliament. Without its approval, Britain might depart the bloc on March 29 with out an settlement to mitigate financial and authorized disruption.
Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana, Belen Carreno and Julien Toyer in Madrid, Alistair Smout, Elizabeth Piper and William James in London, Thomas Escritt in Berlin, and Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by James Dalgleish and Hugh Lawson