gibraltarSo the Spain-Gibraltar border dispute rumbles on. Queues at the land border to enter Gibraltar persist, and suggestions abound that Spain may introduce a charge to cross from Gibraltar into Spain. Meanwhile Tory MEP for the South West & Gibraltar, Ashley Fox, has called on the European Commission to take immediate action and send a team to check what’s happening at the border.

It strikes me that the Commission is not going to care too much about checks and delays at the border. This complaint, after all, comes from the UK, and the UK does precisely that to any visitor coming to the British Isles from anywhere else in the EU as the UK is not in Schengen. Plus the UK’s political capital on any Justice & Home Affairs issue is very low in Brussels just now. So I cannot see the Commission caring too much about some queues as a result of border checks. Charging to cross a border is a different matter, but we are not there yet.

But what should Gibraltar do?

Here’s an idea. Rather than trying to whip up nationalist fervour in the UK, how about making a case for Gibraltar to join Schengen? That would mean Spain would not actually be allowed to control systematically at the border to Gibraltar. Problem solved.

How then could it work?

Gibraltar is part of the EU, although not a part of the common VAT area or customs union (details here). But neither of those has stopped Switzerland joining Schengen. There is also the precedent of Mount Athos that is in Schengen. There are also numerous precedents for parts of Member States being in Schengen, and others not being in Schengen – French overseas territories for example. Furthermore, Gibraltar is not part of the UK-Ireland Common Travel Area, so passports are needed for travel to the UK. This would mean Gibraltar joining Schengen would be a lot less complicated than the Republic of Ireland doing so.

To do so two things would have to happen. The UK government would have to agree to let Gibraltar join Schengen (but if it took a diplomatic problem off their hands, why not agree?) and then all current EU Member States would have to agree to its accession. If Spain were to threaten to veto, other Member States would surely point out Spain’s inconsistency as it is itself within Schengen and has no problem with the principle. If Gibraltar were to signal its intention to join Schengen it would also surely receive a more favourable attitude from the Commission in the meantime.

So then folks, when you face a border dispute, how about thinking of getting rid of the border?


  1. @JorgeG, of course I am not from UKIP or EIP, and you make yourself look ridiculous by saying that you think I might be! I don’t know why you would usually not debate with people from UKIP – I presume you are performing some kind of disdain about them, in which case you’re a few years behind the times.

    We’ve explained how the current rules of Schengen would need to be changed to permit a territory like Gibraltar to join Schengen. It’s begging the question to say that Gibraltar can’t join because the rules don’t currently permit it, and getting beneath my intellectual dignity to point this out.

    I’m not sure what the UK’s position on self-determination for Gibraltar really adds: of course the UK doesn’t want Gibraltar to become independent – otherwise it’d have to lease the naval base from the Gibraltarians to stop them selling it to the Russians (doubtless a problem Spain would prefer not to have any time soon).

    I really don’t “sound like” someone from UKIP – my arguments about what is good and bad about the EU, and why the UK should leave, don’t overlap very strongly with their arguments, style or rhetoric.

  2. JorgeG

    @ Martin Keegan, if you’re not from UKIP or rather EIP, pls accept my apologies, you just sound like one of them…

  3. JorgeG

    @ Martin Keegan, I don’t normally enter into debates with people from UKIP, I agree that I inadvertently contradicted myself.

    I did so because I was under the view, which I still hold, that Gibraltar cannot apply to join Schengen on its own, only the UK could apply to join Schengen and this application would apply to Gibraltar as well. Of course this view is hotly contested by our colleague Jon, the blog owner. But I respect his position that legally it may be possible.

    So what I meant is that the UK has no say on whether the UK applies to join Schengen, application to be extended to Gibraltar. Of course, any Schengen member can veto the entry of a new member as we see now with The Netherlands (and I think other countries) vetoing the entry of Romania and Bulgaria.

    Regarding the other issue, self determination, it seems from Wikipedia (refer to one of my posts above) that not even the UK recognises the right of self-determination of Gibraltar. It only recognises their right to remain British but not their right to be independent (rightly so as this contradicts the Treaty of Utrecht).

    Hence, since the right to self-determination is by definition not a relative right, then the UK itself doesn’t recognise the right to self-determination of Gibraltar. Why should Spain then?

  4. Iestyn ap Robert

    I’m sure joining Schenen would help, it would certainly axe the immigration checks, but most of the delays, especially heading into Spain are caused by customs checks. I think Gibraltar should join both Schengen and the Customs Union. Even so, I’m sure the Spanish would just find some other excuse to cause problems…

  5. I think we’ve heard enough about this UN list of non-self governing territories. I mean, why is Catalonia not on it, or Chechnya, or Karelia? Or the Basque Country?

  6. jglkasjglajl

    Border controls: Schengen entry would prevent passport checks but not customs checks. For example, I often travel between Sweden and Åland. Åland is part of Schengen but not part of the common VAT area, so there is a customs check. Customs officials check that you don’t import more goods than permitted, and may question you if you seem to be bringing in too much alcohol without declaring it. De facto, the customs control on the Swedish side is often just a piece of paper saying that people with goods to declare should call a phone number as there is no customs official within the building, but this isn’t important here. Also, although both Sweden and Denmark are part of both the common VAT area and the customs union (meaning no customs duties to pay), it is still typically illegal to import goods such as marijuana and heroin to Sweden, and Swedish customs officials sometimes patrol the Öresund Bridge to check that people aren’t trying to import such things. The same reasoning holds on any EU internal border: as it is illegal to import illegal drugs and similar stuff, you may always be subject to a customs check at any border. Conclusion: Schengen doesn’t prevent border checks. However, some Schengen rule prevents you from checking everyone in a customs check; you may only check suspicious people (and people walking in the red lane of course). Spain might interpret the customs rules quite liberally.

    Visas: Someone wrote that Gibraltar wouldn’t be able to issue Schengen visas. However, if you go to a Danish embassy, you can get either a Schengen visa for visiting Copenhagen, or a Faroese visa for visiting Tórshavn. Why wouldn’t British embassies be allowed to issue British visas for people visiting London and Schengen visas for people visiting Gibraltar?

    Issue about only a part of the UK joining: Take a look at Cyprus. Cyprus is supposed to join Schengen at some point (although it is taking a very long time, presumably because of the dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots). There are two British military bases on Cyprus, and the idea is that those military bases should join Schengen together with Cyprus (at least de facto). If two military bases can join Schengen without London joining, then why wouldn’t Gibraltar be able to join? Right, Spain would have a veto (cf. Bulgaria+Romania delayed entry), so it would fail because of that.

  7. JorgeG

    @ Holterman, thank you for your dissertation on International Law. Below my response, I am not saying that my quotes below are the bible, just that the right to self-determination of PEOPLES depends on what you define as PEOPLES, e.g.

    “However, the UK government differs with the Gibraltan government in that it considers Gibraltan self-determination to be limited by the Treaty of Utrecht, which prevents Gibraltar achieving independence without the agreement of Spain, a position that the Gibraltan government does not accept.”

    “The Spanish government denies that Gibraltarians have the right to self-determination, considering them to be “an artificial population without any genuine autonomy” and not “indigenous”. However, the Partido Andalucista has agreed to recognise the right to self-determination of Gibraltarians.”

    As you can see, not even the UK and Gibraltar can agree on what the right of self-determination means.

    You argue United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is not valid mainly because YOU SAY SO. Ok please yourself, that doesn’t make it so.

    “The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of countries that, according to the United Nations, are colonized.”

    Of course many of them don’t want to be decolonised. Who would if you have a money laundering-cum-tax haven status making a small fortune for the populace, a status that would be seriously jeopardized if they didn’t have the still significant international weight of the UK behind them.

  8. JorgeG

    I meant tax HAVENS…

  9. JorgeG

    @ Holterman

    “@JorgeG: Leaving aside that that UN list is dumb, because it is full of countries that don’t want to be decolonised…”

    Well of course not, most of them are part of the largest global network of money laundering and tax heaven territories, the one constituted by the so called UK ‘overseas territories’. They are like siamese twins of the UK, they feed of each other, so being independent wouldn’t do them much good.

    “Conclusion: Gibraltar joining Schengen under option 1, as proposed by Jon, is perfectly feasible. Legally, at least.”

    Technically, maybe, but I don’t buy it. In any case, it is a technicality as the very moment that this is attempted Spain would yield a veto as soon as the word go is uttered. Of course there is no likelihood that the UK itself would join Schengen, not in our lifetime anyway for reasons that I have described above, i.e. a toxic combination of post-imperial delusions of grandeur and OBCD (Obsessive Border Control Disorder), two conditions that feed of each other and for which no treatment has been yet found.

    In the same way as Spain would yield a veto over Gibraltar joining Schengen, there seems to be the case, although I am not too sure about it, that the Single European Sky initiative is in the freezer on account of Spanish veto over Gibraltar being part of it.

  10. As a cross-border worker my view is that neither the government of Gibraltar or Spain or the EU are interested in helping me. The issue of border control appears to be a game played by politicians alone. Despite what others have written above I don’t see that public opinion is politicised. There are no real issues of identity or nationality. People just want to get on with their daily lives.

    While Jon’s proposal about Schengen maybe naive and apolitical, it is also refreshing and in my belief what the majority of people actually want. Maybe someone should for Gibraltar to join Schengen?

  11. JorgeG on 10.08.2013 at 18:00: “Spain has no say on whether Gibraltar joins Schengen””

    JorgeG on 12.08.2013 at 18:04: “In the same way as Spain would yield a veto over Gibraltar joining Schengen”

    JorgeG on the implications of his outrageous position on self-determination for territories such as Gibraltar … probably never, but given his consistency above, who knows?

  12. Oliver H

    The problem with Gibraltar joining Schenge, of course, is twofold: First, the Tories will likely rather tow the Rock off Land’s End before they allow anyone to sign anything containing the word “Schengen” – nevermind their hypocrisy threatening to sue Spain in the very ECHR they have been slinging manure at for years now, the current party climate does not allow them to have anyone get more tightly integrated with the EU. On the other hand, given how easy it is to block accession to the Schengen treaty, I doubt that Spain would agree to have its leverage go up in smoke.

  13. Joe Thorpe


  14. It’s not pedantic if you’re trying to avoid being beaten over the head with a straw man.

  15. Joe Thorpe

    Don’t be pedantic

  16. There is no EU President. There is a President – presiding officer – for each of the Institutions.

  17. Joe Thorpe

    If you read the Defence speech from the other day from our illustrious EU president The EU are eyeing up both French & British overseas territories as a means to project the EU’s hard power they want to take control of them by saying they want to share the burden of their upkeep lol. It see’s these places as assets to be utilised for the greater good of the EU

  18. I do actually think that the Eurocrats would take a certain pride in rubbing Britain’s face in their awesomeness by enforcing the law with great care, lack of political capital notwisthanding. I think political capital has nothing to do with it, it would be more a matter of the Eurocrats saying to Cameron: “Look at how well the rule of law, as served by us, helps you now! Clearly you not being in Schengen is your loss, not ours.”

  19. @JorgeG: Leaving aside that that UN list is dumb, because it is full of countries that don’t want to be decolonised, surely Gibraltar has the right to self determination same as any other territory? How on earth can Spain have the right to veto that? If you want an explicit legal basis, here it is:

    International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Article I
    1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

    To the extent that the Treaty of Utrecht says or implies something that is incompatible with this, it is overruled under the lex posterior rule of art. 30(3) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

    Now that that is out of the way, back to the main question: Can Gibraltar join Schengen? As far as I can see – and as Jon already wrote in his OP – there are two ways that this can be done:

    1. Gibraltar could have enough international legal personality to join on its own. (That says nothing about who would have to take such a decision. Aruba also needs someone in The Hague to sign off on it joining a treaty, but that doesn’t mean it can’t join treaties.)

    2. The Schengen law could allow for parts of the territory of a Member State to be covered but not others.

    To clarify one thing by the way: under Protocol 19 on the Schengen Acquis, and under the Accession Treaties for Bulgaria and Romania (and Cyprus, which also remains out I think), extending the Schengen area requires unanimity. So if we’re looking at option 1, it would require unanimity under art. 17 of Protocol 19. Some Googling shows that Gibraltar has entered into a variety of treaties with 3rd countries, so I see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to join Schengen.

    As for option 2: Protocol 19 talks at length about the possibility that the UK and/or Ireland might opt into Schengen. It does not seem to contemplate anywhere, though, that part of the UK or part of Ireland might. So to the extent that we should think of Gibraltar as part of the UK for EU law purposes – as it is treated for European Parliament votes – it cannot join separately. I do not think that this is a correct way of looking at it though; EP votes are a special case.

    The reason for that is art. 355(3) TFEU, which says: “The provisions of the Treaties shall apply to the European territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible.” In fact there is only one such territory: Gibraltar. But if Gibraltar were part of a Member State already – the UK – this provision would be redundant. So the default rule under EU law is that Gibraltar is not considered part of the UK.

    Conclusion: Gibraltar joining Schengen under option 1, as proposed by Jon, is perfectly feasible. Legally, at least.

  20. Joe Thorpe

    Dear JorgeG 11.08.2013 at 11:07

    “In a vast political reshaping of the world, more than 80 former colonies comprising some 750 million people have gained independence since the creation of the United Nations. At present, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs) across the globe remain to be decolonized, home to nearly 2 million people. Thus, the process of decolonization is not complete.”

    British territories all have the option to do as they please. They have democratically elected to remain with the status quo which has to be respected. You influence minds with love & kindness not bullying & abuse that simply stores up hatred, if nothing else in the 21st century we have learnt that.

  21. Joe Thorpe

    dear JorgeG 11.08.2013 at 11:01

    @ passerby, thank you for the historic documentation.

    I think this is more or less what I said in my previous posts, Gibraltar is British, no Gibraltarian sovereign population is recognised, no territorial jurisdiction (i.e. no territorial waters) and no trade with Spain.

    Of course, Britain has taken from the treaty what is suits her and ignore the rest.

    Some above say they are against international law, the alternative seems to be to solve disputes with nuclear weapons I wonder?

    Territorial Waters are recognised through United Nations conventions which both the UK & Spain are signed up to. Saying different is like saying we wont comply with EU conventions that we are signed up to these are all subsequent to treaties that were signed 300 years ago & take precedent I’d have thought?

    The UK doesn’t demand these British Protectorates remain British anymore they have basically got devolved administrations & can vote to leave the umbrella of the UK at anytime if they wish even Scotland is heading down the road of independence & no one is parking tanks outside holyrood palace

  22. JorgeG

    “In a vast political reshaping of the world, more than 80 former colonies comprising some 750 million people have gained independence since the creation of the United Nations. At present, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs) across the globe remain to be decolonized, home to nearly 2 million people. Thus, the process of decolonization is not complete.”

  23. JorgeG

    Correction from my previous post: according to the Treaty of Utrecht Gibraltar is British but so was most of North America, Australia, India, Singapore…,etc.

    These are the last remnants of the British empire and it is for this very reason that the jingoists in power backed by their unelected tabloid bureaucrats and a largely jingoistic populace are dead against giving up these remnants of empire.

    International disputes in the 21st century should be settled by international law and Gibraltar is in the UN list of territories yet to be decolonised, most of which are the last remnants of the British empire, there’s are surprise….

  24. @JorgeG, What the hell is this “no Gibraltarian sovereign population is recognised”?

    Do you also say “no sovereign Israeli population is recognised”? Did Napoleon say “No sovereign Spanish population is recognised”? How about “no sovereign Polish population is recognised”? No sovereign American population? No sovereign Moorish population in Al Andalus, perhaps, too?

    You basically seem to be saying that some arbitrary selection of groups of people doesn’t have the right to govern themselves, and pretending that this doesn’t imply the threat of force to stop them from trying to do so.

  25. JorgeG

    @ passerby, thank you for the historic documentation.

    I think this is more or less what I said in my previous posts, Gibraltar is British, no Gibraltarian sovereign population is recognised, no territorial jurisdiction (i.e. no territorial waters) and no trade with Spain.

    Of course, Britain has taken from the treaty what is suits her and ignore the rest.

    Some above say they are against international law, the alternative seems to be to solve disputes with nuclear weapons I wonder?

  26. Joe Thorpe

    We signed up to the UN as did Spain both are active members of this body. UN standards are what’s applicable in the 21st Century

  27. passerby

    People are talking about the Treaty of Utrecht as if they wrote them. I’ve looked up the relevant text. Basically, Gibraltar is British, but Gibraltar not allowed to trade with Spain.

    The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.

    But that abuses and frauds may be avoided by importing any kind of goods, the Catholic King wills, and takes it to be understood, that the above-named propriety be yielded to Great Britain without any territorial jurisdiction and without any open communication by land with the country round about.

    Yet whereas the communication by sea with the coast of Spain may not at all times be safe or open, and thereby it may happen that the garrison and other inhabitants of Gibraltar may be brought to great straits; and as it is the intention of the Catholic King, only that fraudulent importations of goods should, as is above said, be hindered by an inland communications. it is therefore provided that in such cases it may be lawful to purchase, for ready money, in the neighbouring territories of Spain, provisions and other things necessary for the use of the garrison, the inhabitants, and the ships which lie in the harbour.

    But if any goods be found imported by Gibraltar, either by way of barter for purchasing provisions, or under any other pretence, the same shall be confiscated, and complaint being made thereof, those persons who have acted contrary to the faith of this treaty, shall be severely punished.

    (From )

  28. JorgeG

    “The idea that international law is unchanging and unchangeable is a disease.”

    And your point is? Nobody said that international law is immutable, I only said that as regards to Gibraltar and many other issues, the UK abides by it when it suits them and ignores it when it doesn’t. A bit like the Irak war….

    Of course it is not the UK alone doing this, I don’t mean to be racist lol…

    As for Schengen, UK is not a member of Schengen but it participates in police & judicial cooperation part of it as an opt-in, which now it wants to opt out of again. As a result the UK has absolutely no say on core Schengen matters.

    The UK even took the EU to the ECJ because it wanted to push its way into Frontex and they were told – in polite terms of course – to sod off..

    Talking about double standards lol and wanting to have your cake and eat it…

  29. JorgeG

    In any case the Gibraltarian residents do not want to be independent they want to be British, even if most of them have Spanish names for what I can see, Jose Garcia, Ana Garcia, Fabian Picardo… lol, of course I would also want to remain in the status quo if that meant being wealthy thanks to money laundering, mafia-style tax haven economy, parasiting your neighbour with impunity… etc, etc.

  30. JorgeG

    I don’t mean the people of Gibraltar do not have the right to be sovereign, but Spain has an indisputable legal veto over that, what you want to do is apply international law when it suits you, ignore it when it doesn’t suit you… not sure if this is typically British or not but I would dare to say….or rather not, because you resort to calling me racist… lol

  31. Joe Thorpe

    But if the Proverbial ever hits the fan would they will all come looking for us to be their wing man, would we say no get stuffed? Probably not, we’d be daft & roll up our sleeves, Would they help us if the wheels were turned, probably not too but that is not the issue in this blog 🙂

  32. JorgeG

    @ Jon, ok you win, let’s calm down and agree to disagree… it is your blog so I need to show some respect 🙂

    The wider issues, aside from far fetched speculations about Gibraltar joining Schengen, the ones that has practical implications are these in my view:

    1. Tory MEP for the South West & Gibraltar must be having serious personality issues: Gosh the hypocrisy of these people knows no boundaries. When it suits them they run to the EU like a spoilt kid runs to mummy when they fall and hurt themselves after behaving outrageously bad the whole day. So when they need it, they run to the EU but when they don’t they spend their lives not only denying the EU, just like that apostle in the bible, but actually throwing as many spanners in the works as they can possibly manage to do.

    2. Spain joins the list of countries that are 100% guaranteed to wield a veto when a hypothetical UK government led by Cameron attempts to carve an privileged unilateral EU status for Britain with the acquiescence of the rest of the EU and then put it to the populace in a referendum:

    “Francois Hollande: France will not help David Cameron with EU reforms”

    You can safely bet your bottom dollar that,

    “[Spanish PM]: Spain will not help David Cameron with EU reforms”

  33. @JorgeG, I did not call you racist. I merely pointed out that your arguments were ones I’d only seen used by racists.

    NOW I’ll call you racist: you’re generalising Gibraltarians as a bunch of tax-dodging mafiosi!

    If you bothered to find out my views, rather than just pretending that the views of whomever you’re talking to are whatever views are most convenient for your own argument, you’d find that I have a consistent attitude towards international law: I’m against it, if it is not adequately supported by democratic procedures, which it generally isn’t. Read anything I’ve written on the subject over the last ten years, or, better, read “The Limits of International Law” by Posner and Goldsmith.

    International laws are made by the executive branch of government negotiating with the executive branch of government in a foreign country; the result is then generally rammed through the legislature with minimal scrutiny or ability to amend. Very few countries have adequate constitutional protections against the political class using treaties to pass laws they could not pass domestically. Therefore, if someone says “international law is on my side”, I tend to think “the people are not on his side”, and that he wants to impose his policy by force or by stealth.

  34. JorgeG

    @ Joe Thorpe, you are right, obsessive border control disorder also applies to domestic flights LOL

  35. Looks like everyone’s wrong.

    Schengen has been made a normal part of EU law, subject to QMV, even in relation to non-EU states. That is to say, both the UK and Spain have a vote; the UK participates in the surveillance / hacking-enabling parts of Schengen, but not the border controls, because, by Australian standards and pace @JorgeG, the UK doesn’t actually *have* border controls.

    This means non-EU states like Norway and Iceland can only leave Schengen if they disagree with changes in membership.

    This means Spain can’t in theory veto Gibraltar, but in practice can (the Netherlands is vetoing Bulgaria right now, even without formally assembling a blocking minority), and that the system can be reorganised to permit territories like Gibraltar to join.

    The idea that international law is unchanging and unchangeable is a disease. People who suffer from this disease should go back to paying the Danegeld, allowing the trans-Atlantic slave trade, occupying Suez and leave the neurotypical population to live in the real, changing, world.

  36. Joe Thorpe


    Aren’t flights between Gibraltar & the UK classed as international?

    National United Kingdom (GB)
    Embarkation United Kingdom (GB)/Destination Gibraltar (GI)
    Visited United Kingdom (GB)

    Gibraltar (GI)

    Passport required.
    – Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid
    on arrival.
    Passport Exemptions:

    – Holders of a ID Card issued by the Gibraltar Authorities.

    – Holders of a National ID Card issued to nationals of United


    Visa required, except for Residents of Gibraltar.
    Visa required, except for Holders of a British passports

  37. I’ve seen the argument @JorgeG makes, to the effect that populations such as Gibraltar can’t be sovereign due to some defect of title in international law, again and again and again, to the point where it boring. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it made by someone who wasn’t an intellectually dishonest anti-Semite, who wanted to wipe out the State of Israel, which was declared unilaterally.

    The idea that some bunch of people can’t decide they want to govern themselves is the sort of nonsense I expect from Hitler, Galtieri, Stalin, and the idiots in Britain and Ireland who opposed the rights of Americans and the various traditions in Ireland to govern themselves.

    Also, @JorgeG, the notion that I have the views “typical” of the British is ad hominem, racist, and offensive.

  38. JorgeG


    “From the EU side, legally, if the UK government, presumably at the request of the Gibraltar government, came to the Commission and said: we’d like Gibraltar to join Schengen, is that legally feasible? then the legal answer would be yes.”

    Now, who’s being categorical?

    I stick to my view that it wouldn’t be legally feasible, but perhaps the best idea would be to check this, I suggest you do because you are the one that a) launched the idea in the first place and b) you are well connected in EU corridors. When you get the answer please share it with us. Alternatively floating an idea that is more than legally dubious is a bit irresponsible, even if you own this blog….

    If Gibraltar joined Schengen but the UK mainland didn’t then flights from Gibraltar to the UK would be subject to border controls, i.e. a domestic flight treated as an international flight. Likewise flights from the UK to Gibraltar would have to be subject to Schengen border controls in Gibraltar as it would have to be in compliance of Schengen border regulations. Also, a Schengen visa would be valid for Gibraltar but not for the UK, but Gibraltar wouldn’t be able to issue Schengen visas in the first place as it has no visa issuance authority as far as I can tell. The whole thing would be a legal minefield.

    • Irresponsible for floating an idea that would actually part solve the problem? Irresponsible when politicians on both sides of this ‘debate’ talk tough but have no proper solutions? Sorry but you’re talking tosh. If I didn’t think it – from an EU law perspective – would be theoretically do-able then I wouldn’t have blogged this in the first place, and as Gawain’s comment above shows there have been discussions about it.

      So if you don’t like what I write then your call whether you read or not. My place, my call what to write, and what criteria I choose.

  39. Joe Thorpe

    Dear Juan 10.08.2013 at 16:03

    Joe Thorpe: hahaha…have you seen the massive houses of at least 1,000 Gibraltarians that live in Sotogrande (and pay taxes nowhere – apologies, some of them 10%)? Gibraltar is now just a matter of tax evasion. Even the PM lives in Soto!
    Living in a small apartment in Gibraltar? I don’t see it.

    What a daft comment, have you been to any of the Canary Islands? I have been to most of them & I have a place over here near Marbella. The Canary island are all Duty Free Islands but because they are out of sight you turn a blind eye eh? Nelson turned a blind eye.

  40. JorgeG

    Jon, I don’t think you understand. An appendix cannot decide on what the body should do. It is the other way around. The body decides something and then for practical purposes it can exempt the appendix from that decision, but the body is the one that ultimately decides.

    The idea that Gibraltar would join Schengen but the UK wouldn’t is such a farcical absurdity, it beggars belief that people with a brain can suggest it. Gib. to join Schengen WITHOUT the UK joining Schengen, would only be possible, by definition if Gibraltar was sovereign, which it definitely is not.

    I suggest that, since you are well connected with the EU and EU law, that you check for yourself the legal basis of the outlandish idea that you are suggesting and then see for yourself that it is legally a non-starter.

    Whatever the case may be if it seems that according to your UKIP readers above, e.g. someone is mentioning Paul Nuttal, which on google search is somebody from EIP (England Independence Party) the Gibraltarians themselves would be dead against joining Schengen.

    Quelle surprise, the appendix also suffering from OBCD, just like the main body!

    • Jorge – You’re replying to what you want to read into my words. I agree with you that Gibraltar is probably as obsessive about borders as the UK is. But that’s not the question.

      From the EU side, legally, if the UK government, presumably at the request of the Gibraltar government, came to the Commission and said: we’d like Gibraltar to join Schengen, is that legally feasible? then the legal answer would be yes. I agree with you regarding how unlikely it would be politically.

  41. JorgeG

    @ Martin Keegan, you are making the same mistake that the British usually make, which is to treat the Gibraltarian population as sovereign. It isn’t for two legal reasons:

    1. The Treaty of Utrecht, the only document that provides legal basis for British sovereignty over Gibraltar, doesn’t recognise any sovereignty other than the British sovereignty. According to the treaty, if the British relinquished sovereignty over Gibraltar, as they seem to want to do to give sovereignty to the Gibraltar population, then the sovereignty automatically would revert to Spain.

    2. Self-determination only applies to legitimate, i.e. legally recognised populations. The native population of Gibraltar was expelled or forced out when the British invaded the Rock. The current population of Gibraltar therefore exists only AFTER the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, which doesn’t recognise the sovereignty of any jurisdiction other than Britain.

    The problem with the British is that they constantly want to have it both ways: They claim that Gibraltar is British based on the Treaty of Utrecht, which is true, but then this is a vestige of the days of empire. But they completely ignore the Treaty of Utrecht when it suits them, e.g. territorial waters, building an airport on neutral territory, etc.

    According to the same treaty there should be no trade between Gibraltar and the mainland, so if the Treaty was enforced by Spain, the border and the airport would/should be closed and no trade would be allowed.

    Additionally, Spain has no say on whether Gibraltar joins Schengen (let alone Scotland). This just shows your ignorance. Gibraltar CANNOT join Schengen without the UK joining Schengen, it should be obvious to anyone with a brain. If the UK joined Schengen, something which is not going to happen any time soon (read my previous post) then Spain would have no legal recourse to maintain border controls with Gibraltar.

    • Hang on, hang on. How can you be so categoric – in terms of EU law – that the UK would have to join Schengen for Gibraltar to join? Yes, the UK would have to be in favour of Gibraltar joining (and the UK itself not joining), and other Member States would have to agree, but that would be legally possible, surely? If only part of the French Republic is in Schengen (albeit a large part), couldn’t you do the same for a small part of what’s for EU purposes constitutionally part of the UK?

  42. Joe Thorpe: hahaha…have you seen the massive houses of at least 1,000 Gibraltarians that live in Sotogrande (and pay taxes nowhere – apologies, some of them 10%)? Gibraltar is now just a matter of tax evasion. Even the PM lives in Soto!
    Living in a small apartment in Gibraltar? I don’t see it.

  43. JorgeG

    Jon I think you are confusing the issue.

    Gibraltar is a UK colony, now technically denominated a UK Overseas Territory, hence it absolutely CANNOT join Schengen unless the UK, which is the colonial power over Gibraltar, joins Schengen.

    As both you and I know this is not going to happen probably not in our lifetimes anyway (or at least not in mine, as I think I am a bit older…!), not least because of the ‘group-think’ OBCD (Obsessive Border Control Disorder) that has taken hold of the vast majority of the UK populace and their unelected tabloid bureaucrats.

    By not being in Schengen it is the UK the loser, and there are countless of examples in that respect.

    Going back to the issue of Gibraltar, the examples you mention are those were the main territory, i.e. the metropolis – France or the Netherlands – is in Schengen, but remote overseas territories of that metropolis are not in Schengen. The outlandish idea that you suggest is that the overseas territory joins Schengen while the colonial metropolis does not. This is a non-starter.

    So the only solutions for the border controls in Gibraltar are two possible solutions:

    1. UK negotiates decolonisation of Gibraltar with Spain, as Gibraltar is in the UN Decolonisation list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (the majority of which are British, including Falklands or Gibraltar)

    2. The UK finds a cure for its OBCD and joins Schengen

    Any likelihood of the above to happen. Very little, unfortunately, in both cases for very much the same reason: post-imperial delusions of grandeur.

    But your idea is frankly tosh and unworthy of someone who I rated as of high intellect.

  44. @Jon,

    Spain isn’t going to let Gibraltar (or Scotland) join Schengen, or the Customs Union. Even if Gibraltar did join, Spain would just break the rules of these unions to maintain its leverage. No plausibly foreseeable degree of enforcement by the EU is going to outweigh Spain’s perception of the value of maintaining its territorial claim to Gibraltar.

    Think about it: they’ve wanted Gibraltar back since before that statelet had a democratic self-governing polity which decided it didn’t want to be Spanish. If they’re prepared to override a population’s desire for self-determination, then a fortiori they’re not going to be persuaded by fines and sanctions from the EU.

  45. Joe Thorpe

    Id say if push came to shove Gibraltarians would happily live in their little bubble rather than surrender an inch of sovereignty to Spain.

  46. Gawain


    Interesting idea that was floated in meetings with both the Govt and opposition parties in Gib this week by Paul Nuttall and myself. It is not an idea that washes at all. The Gibraltarians won’t have it, why should they?

    The idea the the EC is sending down a team on a specified day to monitor the behaviour of the Guarda Civil is risible. It is akin to yelling a drug dealer that the police will come round next Thursday at 2pm.

    One idea I heard floated by the Degenders of Gibraltar group was a detachment of Frontex. Not something I would support for obvious and practical reasons. The practical ones being that this is an internal EU border, not that the Spanish see it like that.

    As things stand there is free movement of people on one side of the border. The behaviour of the Guarda has to be seen to be believed. Petty isn’t the half of it.

    The Gibraltarians themselves are annoyed but phlegmatic, the people who are suffering at the 7,000 odd residents of La Linea and its environs ( an area with 60% unemployment as it stands) who travel to work in Gib on a daily basis. The only demos against the blockade are coming from local worker groups in Spain.

    Nobody I spoke to had the first idea what Spain is trying to achieve at this point – other than deflection from PP’s internal difficulties.

    So why should Gibraltar lose its border so that Rajoy can avoid awkward questions about corruption?

  47. Joe Thorpe

    Which will bring us back to where we are now with border checks. I only ever drove over the border the once to go shopping for food at Morrison’s & I had a Spanish Rental car which they were at it like wasps on a jam jar & all I had was food shopping. I know Brits that head over for their monthly “Big Shop” for food that they recognise although there are a few Dunns stores around Malaga now with Irish/UK choices but its not quite the same. Im usually only here a maximum of 3 weeks at a time so I bring my Sausage & Bacon on the plane but its nice to get a good joint of Beef & Yorkshire Pudding Mix 🙂

  48. Interesting points Gawain, and I agree this mess does not really help Spain much either. But there is an issue beyond Rajoy’s current political issues – to make sure the border is workable and open, both ways, for good, for the foreseeable future. Schengen would put this issue to bed for good.

    As for Commission / Frontex etc. – it’s all a waste of time. The UK has no goodwill on JHA issues in Brussels, and no-one in Brussels has any sympathy for the UK and Gibraltar on this, which is rather to be expected as the UK is not collaborative on JHA matters in Brussels. You reap what you sow, and – unfortunately – Gibraltar has been caught on this here. Maybe reason to give them pause for thought as to how they view relations with London.

  49. Joe Thorpe

    It would destroy the Economy here in Marbella with everyone flooding across the border to buy their cigarettes & Alcohol which is substantially cheaper than anywhere else on the Costa Del Sol. There would be lorry loads of bar owners flooding across stocking up. If Ireland joined Schengen that would simply mean Northern Ireland would join but mainland UK wouldn’t as it would be political suicide.

  50. Joe – I thought about that, but no, if they adopted the Swiss case then this would not happen. Because Swiss maintain spot checks for customs purposes, but not checks on the movement of people. So while – illegally – this might happen, it could be prevented from happening legally.

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