As Bri­tain faces its most im­por­tant vote in many years, act­ing For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter José Manuel Gar­cía-Mar­gallo talks ex­clu­sively to CBNews on the ref­er­en­dum, its con­se­quences and other im­por­tant is­sues.

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

By CBNews team How would you de­fine the cur­rent state of re­la­tions be­tween Spain and Great Bri­tain?

Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween Spain and the UK are very close. As fig­ures prove:

Span­ish ex­ports to the UK in 2015 were in ex­cess of 18bil­lion eu­ros, while im­ports from Bri­tain reached 12bil­lion.

The UK is the sixth coun­try in the world where Spain has most in­vest­ment and the third coun­try with the high­est in­vest­ment in Spain (2014 fig­ures).

The UK is the coun­try that sends most tourists to Spain, with 15 mil­lion Bri­tish cit­i­zens vis­it­ing the coun­try in 2014.

There are a huge num­ber of Bri­tish res­i­dents in Spain and Spa­niards liv­ing the UK.

What would you like to see, and what is your opin­ion, re­gard­ing a pos­si­ble Brexit af­ter the June 23 ref­er­en­dum?

We want to loy­ally con­trib­ute to­wards help­ing the UK re­main as a mem­ber of the EU and we trust that the agree­ment reached by the Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil in Fe­bru­ary will al­low the Bri­tish peo­ple to choose to re­main, re­spect­ing its prin­ci­ples and the fun­da­men­tal val­ues of the union.

The Bri­tish ex­pat com­mu­nity on the Costa Blanca is very con­cerned about the con­se­quences of a pos­si­ble Brexit. How would this af­fect Bri­tish cit­i­zens liv­ing in Spain? And what mea­sures have been planned to con­tinue pro­vid­ing ser­vices such as healthcare and ed­u­ca­tion to Bri­tons who would then be­come non-EU res­i­dents?

In the hy­po­thet­i­cal event of the ref­er­en­dum sup­port­ing the Leave op­tion, a two-year pe­riod would be­gin for ne­go­ti­at­ing the new re­la­tion­ship be­tween the EU and the UK based on ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU Treaty.

In the event of a Brexit, you have al­ready stated your wish to have joint sovereignty over Gi­bral­tar. Is that cor­rect?

The EU treaties are cur­rently ap­plied to Gi­bral­tar as a colo­nial ter­ri­tory with for­eign af­fairs han­dled by the UK. If Bri­tain leaves, that sit­u­a­tion dis­ap­pears and Gi­bral­tar would no longer be within the EU to all ef­fects, in­clud­ing the com­mon mar­ket

he only gate­way for it to en­ter the com­mon mar­ket and en­joy the priv­i­lege of free­dom of move­ment would be to re­con­sider the old idea of a joint Bri­tish-Span­ish sovereignty for sev­eral years, re­spect­ing the sin­gu­lar sta­tus of the cit­i­zens of Gi­bral­tar and re­spect­ing its eco­nomic sta­tus for sev­eral years.

Would a Brexit be the be­gin­ning of the end of the EU?

There’s no doubt that a Brexit would be harm­ful for Europe, be­cause its means a se­ri­ous am­pu­ta­tion of the Eu­ro­pean project, but not its end. As I have said on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions, the so­lu­tion im­plies ‘more Europe’.

The min­istry of for­eign af­fairs and the min­istry for the in­te­rior are most in­volved in the fight against ter­ror­ism. In re­cent months, the Bri­tish me­dia has pointed at Spain and the tourism re­sorts as the main tar­gets for Daesh (Is­lamic State). Is there any truth in this? Is Spain still a safe hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion for Bri­tish tourists?

In Spain we have well-pre­pared se­cu­rity forces and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies spe­cialised in the pre­ven­tion of Ji­hadist ter­ror­ism. It is their duty to eval­u­ate the risk of ter­ror at­tacks and adopt mea­sures to neu­tralise them, and they do a very good job. I am fully aware that the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties reg­u­larly an­a­lyse this risk and pro­vide the nec­es­sary coun­ter­mea­sures.

Sadly, no one is safe from the ter­ror­ist threat, wher­ever you are in the world. We have just seen it in Or­lando. We have

Sr Gar­cía-Mar­gallo on Ali­cante's es­planade this week be­fore his in­ter­view with CBNews

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