Gi­bral­tar in the spot­light

Coup de pro­jec­teur sur Gi­bral­tar

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito | Sommaire - PHIL HOAD

Les dé­fis de l’en­clave bri­tan­nique.

Un pe­tit ter­ri­toire bri­tan­nique, sous le so­leil et les pal­miers. Si­tué au bout de la pé­nin­sule ibé­rique, Gi­bral­tar est un vieux su­jet de dis­corde entre Londres et Ma­drid. Après le ré­fé­ren­dum sur le Brexit, la ten­sion est de nou­veau mon­tée avec l’Es­pagne, qui convoite tou­jours cette en­clave d’à peine 7 km2. Voi­ci quelques clés pour com­prendre l’his­toire, les par­ti­cu­la­ri­tés, et l’ave­nir du « ro­cher ».

With Brexit ne­go­tia­tions cur­rent­ly in a quag­mire, those hol­ding fast to the Rock of Gi­bral­tar have had a chance to breathe these last few months. April saw our ta­bloids raise the ve­ry 16thcen­tu­ry idea of An­glo-Spa­nish war af­ter the EU confir­med a ve­to for Spain in dis­cus­sions about Gi­bral­tar’s post-Brexit sta­tus. The spat died down – but the 50th an­ni­ver­sa­ry this year of the 1967 re­fe­ren­dum, in which 99.64% of Gi­bral­ta­rians vo­ted to stay Bri­tish, brings the ques­tion of so­ve­rei­gn­ty bob­bing to the sur­face again.

2.With 30,000 cram­med around the pro­mon­to­ry, it re­mains a Bri­tish over­seas ter­ri­to­ry; self-go­ver­ning and not part of the UK, but ce­ding res­pon­si­bi­li­ty for de­fence and fo­rei­gn af­fairs to Lon­don. Spain has long de­man­ded its re­turn, but Brexit ad­ded a new twist down on the Cos­ta del Brit: 96% of ci­ti­zens vo­ted Re­main.


3. Des­pite the pro-EU fee­ling, Gi­bral­tar has re­sol­ved to stand with the UK. But – aside from streng­the­ning Spain’s claim on the 7km2 out­crop – Brexit brings other com­pli­ca­tions. Ear­ly sug­ges­tions were that the Spa­nish go­vern­ment may use ne­go­tia­tions to at- tack the tax-ha­ven sta­tus that has made Gi­bral­tar a centre for ban­king, in­su­rance, gam­bling and on­line ga­ming; an “un­jus­ti­fied pri­vi­lege”, in its eyes. The sta­tus of Gi­bral­tar air­port – awk­ward­ly span­ning the isth­mus be­hind the Rock that Spain claims is not sub­ject to the trea­ty gran­ting Bri­tain so­ve­rei­gn­ty – is ano­ther sti­cking point.

4.The fear is that, if Brexit turns nas­ty, Spain might de­cide to shut the bor­der. Not all lo­cals love the EU, but it has been a buf­fer against head­strong politics. As Gi­bral­tar chief mi­nis­ter Fa­bian Pi­car­do re­cent­ly said: “It was

on­ly in the ne­go­tia­tions for the Spa­nish to ac­cess the then Eu­ro­pean Eco­no­mic Com­mu­ni­ty that Spain fi­nal­ly ope­ned the fron­tier. We see the EU as a gua­ran­tor of the free­dom of mo­ve­ment of people.”


5. Its po­si­tion on the nor­thern tip of the 14km strait bet­ween Eu­rope and Afri­ca has made Gi­bral­tar one of the most fought-over scraps of land in the world. It was dub­bed Ja­bal Ta­riq – cor­rup­ted in­to the cur­rent name – when the Umayyad Moors sei­zed it in 711. The king­dom of Cas­tile an­nexed it for good in 1462, and it re­mai­ned Spa­nish un­til 1704, when an An­glo-Dutch fleet bom­bar­ded the gar­ri­son in­to sub­mis­sion du­ring the war of Spa­nish suc­ces­sion. The trea­ties of Utrecht rub­ber-stam­ped En­glish ow­ner­ship nine years la­ter; Spain has spent the last three cen­tu­ries trying to get Gi­bral­tar back. Three sieges, Fran­co clo­sing the bor­der and di­plo­ma­cy in the era of de­co­lo­ni­sa­tion have all been fruit­less. The Gi­bral­ta­rians re­jec­ted a se­cond re­fe­ren­dum – with so­ve­rei­gn­ty­sha­ring on the table – by close to 99% in 2002.


6. The new ATM that ac­cepts bit­coin in the World Trade Cen­ter Gi­bral­tar’s re­cep­tion area – though you’d have to put in a fair amount of conven­tio­nal wedge (£3,562 at time of wri­ting) to get a whole bit­coin back. Few real-world shops ac­cept bit­coin yet, but the ter­ri­to­ry is intent on being ahead of the curve with cryp­to­cur­ren­cy – des­pite some seeing it as a chal­lenge to tra­di­tio­nal ban­king.

7.The Gi­bral­tar Stock Ex­change laun­ched Eu­rope’s first re­gu­la­ted bit­coin as­set last year, while the Di­gi­tal Cur­ren­cy Sum­mit took place there in May. The big­gest an­noun­ce­ment was a pro­po­sal to re­gu­late the un­der­lying blo­ck­chain tech­no­lo­gy. “In a world in which re­pu­ta­tion means so much, it’s un­ders­tan­dable that Gi­bral­tar wants to put it­self in a po­si­tion to make the most of de­ve­lop­ments in this space, whil­st not ex­po­sing it­self to re­pu­ta­tio­nal risk,” writes bu­si­ness con­sul­tant Jo­hann Oli­ve­ra in the Gi­bral­tar Chro­nicle.


8. Sor­ting out its se­wage pro­blem, so­me­thing the cur­rent go­vern­ment pro­mi­sed to do when it was elec­ted in 2011. In May this year, the Eu­ro­pean court of jus­tice pul­led up the ter­ri­to­ry for conti­nuing to pump raw se­wage out in­to the Me­di­ter­ra­nean at Europa Point. A slan­ging match erup­ted bet­ween the ru­ling Gi­bral­tar So­cia­list La­bour par­ty and the op­po­si­tion Gi­bral­tar So­cial De­mo­crats in the coun­try’s par­lia­ment. “I’ve seen [ef­fluent] spread out in a slick trail far out to sea when the waves aren’t so strong, so it’s not in­con­cei­vable to think that it is tra­vel­ling to near­by beaches like San­dy Bay,” says sha­dow en­vi­ron­ment spo­kes­per­son Tre­vor Ham­mond. The go­vern­ment says part of the de­lay in buil­ding a plant is due to the fact Gi­bral­ta­rian se­wage is car­ried in salt wa­ter, and any new sys­tem needs to ac­count for va­rying sa­li­ni­ty le­vels. There is no na­tive wa­ter sup­ply on the pe­nin­su­la, a long­stan­ding pro­blem.

Newspapers in French

Newspapers from France

© PressReader. All rights reserved.