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GIBRALTAR

Spain says it would not block general Brexit agreement over Gibraltar

Spain's Foreign Minister on Monday dismissed the idea that his country would block a general Brexit agreement over possible disagreements about Gibraltar.

Spain says it would not block general Brexit agreement over Gibraltar
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis. Photo: DPA/AFP

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis added that the discussion about the British territory on Spain’s southern coast would be bilateral between the two countries, according to news agency Efe.

“I think no: this does not depend only on us, it depends on the United Kingdom and above all on an agreement being reached,” Dastis told a press conference, answering a question as to whether Spain would veto a general agreement between the EU and UK, for which negotiations began on Monday, because of Gibraltar.

EU leaders have granted Madrid a veto over any future deal with Britain that would involve the territory. The EU 27 guidelines state that “no agreement” after Brexit between the EU and Britain could apply to Gibraltar without a bilateral agreement between Madrid and London.

Britain has expressed alarm over the clause and British Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted she will “never” allow Gibraltar to slip from British control.

With a population of just over 32,000, Gibraltar has been a British overseas territory since 1713 but Spain has long laid claim to it. Some 10,000 people cross from Spain to Gibraltar to work every day.

Authorities in Gibraltar fear Spain is trying to take advantage of Brexit to impose its control over the territory.

Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in last June's Brexit referendum, but they still appear set on remaining British after the vote.

Dastis further confirmed that “what is fundamental, and what we expect the United Kingdom to understand, is that there is a structural relationship between the United Kingdom and the Europe Union.”

“The question of Gibraltar does not have any reason to be the first or most important thing in the framework of this discussion,” he said, adding that it will be necessary to first “clarify this framework” regarding future relations and later “we will see how this applies to Gibraltar”.

“Yes, it will be a bilateral discussion, but not immediately and it will not be one of the urgent issues.”

When asked whether the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier, will be authorized to address the topic of Gibraltar with his British counterparts, Dastis said “it is not a matter of authorization”.

“The guidelines say what they say, and we are not going to put in a strict and rigorous plan, and verify the instructions day to day.”

 
With AFP
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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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