Gibraltar - Economic Paradise Thanks To Spain!

Published on 9/21/2009 in Facts About Spain

The recent visit by the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos to Gibraltar, the first ever by a Spanish Foreign Minister, caused a furore in the Spanish media with the overwhelming message being that his visit represented a tacit acceptance by Spain in terms of British sovereignty over the Rock - despite the fact that Moratinos stated during his visit that Spain would never renounce its claim of sovereignty over Gibraltar and that this visit was part of the Cordoba 2006 "road map" agreed between Spain, the UK and Gibraltar to try and find practical solutions to the issues surrounding Gibraltar.

GibraltarHow pathetic and third world!  Very simply - Spain ceded Gibraltar (and Minorca) to the British in perpetuity in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht as part of the resolution of the Spanish War of Succession.  Spain has subsequently spent centuries persecuting Gibraltar and its citizens by various means, e.g. cutting off electricity, water, telephone, making access difficult etc.

Well Franco died over 30 years ago, Spain has been part of the EU for 23 years and is also a member of many multilateral organisations so, theoretically at least, it is a first world country.  To me a key part of being "civilised" is to respect treaties/agreements you have signed - regardless of when they were signed and to act in good faith to try and "regain" what you think is yours and which is "owned" by another first world country.  Despite being guilty of many sins, I haven't heard the French trying to reclaim the Channel Islands from the UK which were originally part of Normandy until 1204 or Llivia, the Spanish enclave on the French side of the Pyrenees ceded by France as part of the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees.

All of that being said, what shocked me about the coverage in Expansion, Spain's equivalent to the FT, was the "Spain feeds the Paradise of Gibraltar".  Now let's be clear, Expansion is a right wing newspaper which is very anti-Zapatero but in this case they have adopted the nationalistic line, i.e. that Spain has tacitly given up its claim for sovereignty over Gibraltar and, more worryingly, that the Cordoba "road map" massively favoured Gibraltar's residents at the expense of local Spaniards.  The core of this second argument (unsubstantiated) is that Gibraltarians pay no taxes (income, VAT or vehicle tax), have subsidised petrol etc. and that allowing them free access to the Spanish economy has resulted in Gibraltar experiencing above average economic growth, to the extent that their income per capita at ?30,000 is higher than the Spanish average of ?24,000 and, more importantly the Andalucian average of ?18,000.

They do not substantiate how or why access to the Spanish economy might have achieved this and all I can say about this is that if Gibs growth in recent years is due to no or low taxes, minimal bureaucracy and govt intervention etc. and that in the meantime Spaniards living in the surrounding area have gone into reverse economically, what it proves (to me at least) is that low taxes and minimal govt intervention are the way to foster economic growth and generate wealth and that, instead of complaining about Gibs economic resurgence thanks to Spain's "generosity" under the Cordoba road map, the Spanish should be looking (and learning) at the real reasons why this happened and then practising similar policies. 

It may just save them from sliding into being the poor man of Europe (again) and reverting to being a developing country (and remaining reliant on EU "aid").  But can you see common sense prevailing over politics, ideology and nationalism?  Call me a cynic, but maybe if the Spanish economy continues to deteriorate then maybe Spain will use the age old trick of invading Gibraltar to draw attention away from domestic problems!!

Written by: Robert Tenison

About the author:

An anglo-spaniard (born in UK of Spanish parents).  Ex banker, business consultanat and internet entrepreneur with 25 years experience of doing business in Spain and permanent resident for the last 7 years.  Publishing first novel, Deadly Secrets (corruption, bribery and murder in Southern Spain) later this month.

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waqar said:
Saturday, April 24, 2010 @ 6:48 AM


Kyle Reese said:
Saturday, December 12, 2009 @ 3:34 PM

Gibraltar is dump used as a money laundry machine for banksters, international mafia, and wide-boys, period.

Jose Manuel said:
Saturday, November 28, 2009 @ 8:18 PM

You have reason, Mister ANGLO-spanish, mainly when you speaks of the economy with respect to Spain and to the political bad that we have. I won't speak of Gibraltar because I don't know if Spain recovers it some day again, I will talk about you, you has Spanish origins, origins that you should not feel of pride, mainly for the form in that you speak of my country, and I say it because every time that takes out a topic of Spain it is a negative topic. To vary ... because you doesn't speak of all the shit that there is in the United Kingdom? that it is much and smell very bad.

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