The European Union has designated Gibraltar as a “colony” of the United Kingdom in a document published today. “Totally unacceptable”, said a government spokesman in London.

The reference to Gibraltar as a British colony is in a footnote to a document by which the Member States want to ensure that the British can travel to the European Union without a visa even after the Brexit. “Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown,” the footnote says, adding that there is “controversy” between the UK and Spain over sovereignty over Gibraltar.

“It is totally unacceptable to describe Gibraltar in such a way”, said Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman. “Gibraltar is fully part of the British family and has a mature and modern constitutional relationship with the UK. That will not change because of our departure from the EU.”

Twist apple

Gibraltar, an area of 6.8 square kilometres in the extreme south of the Iberian Peninsula, was ceded by Madrid to the British Crown in 1713, but Spain continues to claim Gibraltar. The more than 30,000 inhabitants rejected the idea of shared sovereignty with Spain in 2002.

The divorce agreement between the EU and the UK, which was rejected in January in the British Parliament, contains several provisions on Gibraltar. For example, measures are foreseen to cooperate in the fight against tobacco smuggling, and in the area of labour rights and the environment.

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