Fabian Picardo: British EU exit would ‘destroy’ Gibraltar

Writing an opinion piece on Politico Europe, Picardo announced that a 'Brexit' would have 'disastrous consequences' for Gibraltar's economy

LAST UPDATED: 4 May, 2015 @ 12:42

Fabian Picardo
Fabian Picardo

CHIEF Minister Fabian Picardo has said that a British EU exit would ‘destroy’ Gibraltar. 

Writing an opinion piece on Politico Europe, Picardo announced that a ‘Brexit’ would have ‘disastrous consequences’ for Gibraltar’s economy.

He added that it would give Spain an ‘added weapon’ in its claim of the Rock, which could see Spain slam the border gate shut.

“It is a weapon Madrid has used before, trying to bully Gibraltar into a sovereignty arrangement that would have us abandon our inalienable status as a self-governing British Overseas Territory and become an unwilling part of Spain,” he wrote.

“There is a strong case to argue that if Britain reconsiders its position in the EU we, as a long-standing, law-abiding and integral part of that union, deserve once again to have our particular circumstances considered.

“Can we really cease to be EU citizens against our will? Can an EU member state, indeed the EU itself, now just cut us off? It is not that simple, surely.”

He added: “For us in Gibraltar, probably the smallest of the EU jurisdictions, losing the ability to freely provide services to the single market of 520m people would be an existential threat in economic terms.

“Gibraltar’s size is often our greatest challenge. Yet in the context of a UK exit from the EU, our problems, massive though they would no doubt be, would be discernible and identifiable.”

While the Conservative UK government does not support an EU exit, Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to hold a referendum if re-elected.

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  1. If the UK were to exit the EU, where would that leave the British expat community in Spain, in France, Germany etc or in the UK the millions of other EU Nationals who have likewise found work there? Would they then be considered illegal immigrants? Its not just Gibraltar who would find itself between a rock and a hard place. Bears pondering.

  2. Worth a read Inthename: “http://graduateinstitute.ch/files/live/sites/iheid/files/sites/ctei/shared/CTEI/working_papers/CTEI_2013-01_LawClinic_FutureUKinEurope.pdf”

    Rights already acquired by individuals (or any legal person for that matter) will be protected, it’s hard to see how this would not be the case.

    Gibraltar could actually come out in an even better situation than it now finds itself, with EEA/EFT-style access to the market. Picardo is just scaremongering to help his LibDem friends. Brexit negotiations would be between the UK (for itself and on behalf of Gibraltar) and the EU, and not Spain. Spain would not really have much influence as there is very little now which does not fall under qualified majority voting (external border controls certainly does). The Germans (and their car-makers) are not going to allow Spain to sabotage any agreement because of Gibraltar…

  3. Picardo is dead right; a Brexit would be a disaster for UK trade, the hundreds of thousands of Brits living on mainland Europe AND Gibraltar, yet I fear that any referendum would favour just such a scenario.

    Too many Brits fail to see that they need to be part of the EU.

  4. There is little doubt that a Brexit would make life more difficult for Brits living in other EU member states but a deal could be negotiated. I have no idea what form such a deal would take but perhaps the UK could pay for their health care or people could take out private health insurance. The question is would the Spanish government agree to long term visitors provided they can support themselves? My instinct is to say yes because they need the revenue that would be created but it might not be that simple. People who are working would need work permits which would be a nightmare and one of the main stumbling blocks.

    I think we should renegotiate certain areas like benefits and red tape and stay in. Other EU members should also have the opportunity to do this and the EU needs to be more flexible for all members. I think the EU will have to reform in order to survive – it’s not just the UK who is fed up with it.

  5. @Jane Why would life for Brits in other EU member states be any more difficult than it is for the Norwegians, Swiss or Icelandics? There’s absolutely no doubt that a deal will be done, in fact it has to be done under EU law. See my link above. Brits already in other EU states have already acquired rights, it’s the ones who want to move after a Brexit who might find things a little more complicated but I doubt it will be any more difficult that it is for a Norwegian.

    The Spanish government will have very little influence, because negotiations will be between the UK and the EU Commission. Any agreement reached will be subject to a vote in the council under qualified majority rules and it’s very unlikely that the rest of the EU countries will allow their trade with the UK to be sabotaged by Spain’s Gibraltar obsession. The UK buys way more from the EU than it sells to the EU, especially when the Rotterdam effect is taken into consideration.

    @paellataffy Brexit will not be a disaster for UK trade, it’s more likely to have the opposite effect. The EU holds the UK back, as it holds itself back. The UK does not need to be part of the EU to trade with it, that is complete nonsense. Norway, Switzerland and Iceland especially prove this as does every other country in the world which trades with the EU without being part of it. The UK sells way more to the rest of the world than it does to the EU, but even if those goods and services are not sold into the rest of the EU they have to comply with EU law, some of which is totally absurd and adds unnecessary cost, making those goods less competitive. The UK trades with the rest of the world without being political union with it, who do we have to be in political union with the EU to trade with it?

    • First of, the swiss, norwegian and icelandic people still need to follow most of the same rules the EU makes while being part of the single market. The difference is that they have no influence on the rules making since they are not members of the EU. They still pay a sizeable amount to the EU budget aswell, so im not sure whos getting the better deal here. The swiss for example are members of the Schengen zone so Romanians and Bulgarians has same rights to go there as any other EU nation.

      My point is, its only in the peoples minds they think they are better off out side. While infact they lose influence on the laws made in Brussels they will have to follow later on anyway… besides, comparing Switzerland and Norway to almost any EU country is not fair since both countries are running some of the highest trade surpluses and are among the richest nations in the world. Britain is not Switzerland nor is it ever will be Norway… any trade deal the UK will get will almost certainly be worse than what it is today and when the UK negotiate trade deal with other countries their negotiate power will be as of a nation of 64 mio. Not a trade block of 520 mio… UK gdp 2400mill usd VS EU gdp 17.000mill usd. I think the numbers speaks for themselves.

      Or though Camerons will win the election, the Brits will still opt to stay in at the end of the day…

  6. Iestyn ap Robert
    May be as you say, but we also believed Spain could not go back on the air liberelisation deal or hold the Eu to ransom because of its obsession with Gibraltar, and we are still holding our breath as to what the other EU countries will decide. Have you read today’s ABC? Margallo is already threatening a little masked Veto on Gibraltar re negotiating if UK opts out, and it hasn’t happened yet. Although the same opportunity of a renegotiated entry by Catalonia and the Basques should they decide to break away from Spain, must be weighing heavily on his mind, i have little doubt that even without this, the present government would lean on all other member States to stop Gibraltar’s in the hope of cashing in on the opportunity, should it present itself. Europe and its very roots need to be shaken up and re negotiated. I certainly don’t believe it is delivering as it should, and it most certainly should not allow any of its members to influence decision making to further their territorial claims. We are, after all, supposed to have equal opportunities if we comply with the rules. As far as I know Gibraltar does. Can the same be said of Spain? Spain’s entry was conditioned by open borders, and that was the only reason she was allowed in, when they opened the border with European Gibraltar after 16 years of closure by a Spanish dictatorship. It would be ironic if they now used their membership to keep us out.