Spain Says Brexit Deal Won't Be Held Up by Disputes on Gibraltar

(Bloomberg) -- The push to seal an agreement over Britain’s departure from the European Union won’t be held up by wrangling over the future of Gibraltar, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said.

With more than 300,000 British citizens living in Spain and Spanish companies heavily invested in the U.K. economy, the country is particularly exposed to the risk of the U.K. leaving without a deal.

“For Spain, a cliff edge situation would be very damaging,” Borrell said in an interview at his offices in Madrid Wednesday. “Gibraltar will not be the last stone in the road. I hope. This is not going to happen.”

Under the terms of the EU guidelines for the Brexit negotiations, Spain has a veto on whether the terms of any deal will also apply to Gibraltar, a British enclave on the tip of the Iberian peninsula.

Gibraltar’s 2.2 billion pound ($2.9 billion) services economy relies on frontier workers coming from Spain for about 50 percent of its labor force, providing critical jobs for Spanish towns close to the border.

The U.K. and the EU are preparing for a special summit to sign the Brexit deal in November and the meeting could be announced within days, according to people familiar with the matter. While negotiators still need to resolve key disagreements, the EU is getting ready to schedule a one-off gathering in mid-November so leaders can formally agree to the terms of the divorce, the people said.

“It’s difficult for me to believe that they are going to go at the end of November without any kind of arrangement,” Borrell said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.