Joe Garcia, Journalist

Former foreign
Sir Geoffrey Howe
admits that the
Brussels Agreement
was a SELL OUT !

From "Panorama" 13th November 1994
by Joe Garcia

The Anglo-Spanish agreement over Gibraltar's future. otherwise known as the Brussels Agreement, "laid the way for talks about the sovereignty of the colony, "says Sir Geoffrey Howe, who signed the deal when foreign secretary. Howe's confirmation of what the Brussels Agreement is all about makes the deal even less credible and more unacceptable to the vast majority of Gibraltarians.

The former foreign secretary confirms that Brussels is about sovereignty in his memoirs. which have just been published. He writes of the efforts made to clear the way for Spanish membership of NATO and the European Community. And adds: "That was made possible only with the strenuous help of my opposite number, Fernando Moran, with whom I had found at least a partial solution to the historic Gibraltar dispute."

Howe continues: "After fifteen rough negotiating months we had the previous February signed an agreement for the reopening of Spain's land border with the tiny colony (it had been closed by General Franco in 1969) AND LAID THE WAY FOR TALKS ABOUT THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE COLONY." As a result. "Anglo-Spanish relations were greatly enhanced by this undertaking." Indeed, at Gibraltar's epense!

The Brussels Agreement though implemented in Febuary 1985. was in fact signed in November 1984 - even if Howe has got the dates wrong, but then, did he get anything right for Gibraltar?

The co-signatory of the agreement the ex Spanish Foreign minister Fernando Moran. also makes clear in his own memoirs what the deal was all about, as revealed recently in a PANORAMA extract of his book. The deal over Gibraltar, clearly against the wishes of its people, was struck the year after Howe became foreign secretary.

Gibraltar, he writes, was of pressing practical importance "since it could all too easily become an embarrassment in the context of negotiations for Spain's accession to the Community." He reveals that with colleagues and experts in the Foreign Office ex-imperial "problems left over by history" had been considered on the basis of the principle of a "realistic appraisal of Britain's interests."

He says that "my proposed approach" was endorsed virtually without comment: To punctiliously discharge our obligations over the Falklands and Cyprus, and over the next 5 years, to make a real effort to bring about solutions or at least to create the framework for solutions in those cases were this appears a real possibility.

His suggestion was that the Gibraltar issue could probably not be solved "but we must use the EC accession negotiations as a vehicle to find a new plateau of stability in our relations with Spain, in which Gibraltar does not overshadow everything else as it does now."

That is how the clear sell-out of the people of Gibraltar was begun. His memoirs' title 'Conflict of Loyalty' is specifically about his row with Margaret Thatcher - but it could have been about Gibraltar.

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