Spain will not seek to regain sovereignty over Gibraltar as part of the UK's exit from the European Union, a senior official has confirmed.
Despite fears being raised that the Rock could be used as a pawn in Brexit discussions, Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis insisted there was no desire to make it a pre-requisite of any deal.
He told Spanish newspaper ABC that while he placed "great importance" on the issue "which takes the form of a Spanish demand for the completion of our territorial integrity", he would not block Brexit in order to secure it.
“We will try to convince the Gibraltarians that [joint sovereignty] is a route worth exploring and that it would benefit them too. But what I don’t want to do is jeopardise an EU-UK agreement by subjecting it to a need to alter Gibraltar’s status at the same time," Dastis said. "I won’t make an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom conditional on recovering sovereignty over Gibraltar.”
Dastis also indicated that the rest of the EU would benefit from a transitional period, saying: “There is an accepted tradition in the EU that time helps resolve problems. Transitional periods are a solid mechanism for finding solutions to problems.”
And he sought to reassure nationals on both sides who are living abroad, saying the negotiation teams are "very close" to approving a deal with reciprocal rights.
"The differences are minor and I would be surprised if we cannot reach a satisfactory deal given the good will on both sides," Dastis said. "People affected have nothing to fear. No-one wants citizens to suffer because of this.”