The United Kingdom complained about the European Union calling Gibraltar a “colony” in a piece of draft legislation last week, pointing out to the fact that the EU is backing up Spain in its territorial dispute as Britain quits the EU. Britain complained after the EU member states agreed to provide British nationals visa-free travel to the bloc following Brexit even if negotiations on a broader divorce treaty collapse, but on condition that Britain offers the same terms to EU nationals visiting the UK for up to 90 days.
Yet, the EU leaders say that British ambassador to the EU had objections to the wording of the legislation, which made a distinction between citizens of the UK and the 33,000 inhabitants of Gibraltar, yet both having the same rights. The draft also mentioned Spain’s claim to sovereignty over “The Rock” at the United Nations when it stated that “Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown. There is a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty over Gibraltar.” However, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson insisted that Gibraltar was not a “colony”.
Gibraltar, a strategic port at the entrance of the Mediterranean was captured by the Anglo-Dutch forces from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704 and the territory was ceded to Great Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Gibraltar was a “crown colony” when Britain joined the EU in 1973 but London reclassified it as a “British overseas territory” in 2002. “Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe it in this way,” the British spokeswoman said, stressing that “Gibraltar is a full part of the UK family.”