Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. It is under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the UK. It is the only BOT with EU membership, which it holds as a dependent territory of the UK. This is therefore not comparable to the situation with French overseas departments, which are almost the same status as metropolitan (geographically European) departments.

Gibraltar voted 96% in favour of remaining within the EU. A few years ago, it voted even more overwhelmingly (98%) to reject joint UK-Spanish sovereignty. So, assuming no change in its sovereignty or status as a BOT, is there any legal mechanism that would allow Gibraltar to remain in the EU when the UK leaves?

I would assume not, but it's not clear to me why Gibraltar has EU membership in the first place when other BOTs don't, so I know I'm missing something. The current situation also proves that BOTs don't automatically inherit the membership status of their 'parent' state but that there is some flexibility to determine this on a case-by-base basis.

  • There are lots of small islands and other bits of territory which are treated as special cases by the EU. Gibraltar is only one of them. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Paul Johnson Nov 21 '18 at 9:10
  • Gibraltar will leave the EU at the same time as the rest of the UK under the terms of the UK government's Article 50 notification. Whether that notification can be revoked or varied is the subject of a case recently referred to the ECJ, so it's no clearer whether Gibraltar could remain or not. theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/20/… – Stuart F Nov 21 '18 at 18:00
  • @StuartF this looks more like an answer posted as a comment, but it's not sourced either and I don't follow your logic as to why Gibraltar has to leave the EU at the same time - my whole question boils down to "does it?". Gibraltar is not part of the UK, it's a British Overseas Territory (BOT), and as I note in the question there is precedent for BOTs to have a different EU membership status to the UK (since currently all the others are out even though the UK is in). Why not the reverse? – arboviral Nov 26 '18 at 14:20

I don't really understand the logic of the last paragraph. Sure, a country being a member of the EU doesn't imply its Oversea Territories also belong to the EU. The membership in the EU is a treaty between countries, so is the result of a negotiation. The incorporation of OTs is a case by case matter, mostly for practical reason: immigration, the fact that OTs often have different laws than the State they depend upon,...

But it seems clear that OTs of a non-member cannot be members of the UE. What will happen is that the UK will leave the Union as a whole. As a comparison, it seems that Northern Ireland or Scotland would prefer remain in the UE. But it would only be possible if they take their independence from UK. The same applies to Gibraltar.

Edit: Gibraltar has a special situation since it is self-governed with its own Parliament. However, Gibraltar's foreign relations are in the hand of the British government. As EU is treaty between nations, Gibraltar would need to become fully independent or the agreement of the British government, in order to stay in the EU.

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    While I suspect that's true, it isn't actually clear to me that OTs of a non-member cannot be members of the EU - that's exactly the thing I want clarifying. And OTs have completely different status to NI or Scotland so that doesn't seem like a very helpful analogy. Scotland and NI are part of the UK; Gibraltar and other BOTs are not. – arboviral Apr 6 '17 at 12:46
  • @arboviral but you use another non-helpful analogy: French overseas departments are part of France. – phoog Apr 9 '17 at 5:39
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    To arboviral's credit, Gibraltar is self-governed with its own Parliament, contrary to French OTs which are treated almost like any European French department. But GIbraltar's foreign relations are in the hand of the UK government, so Gibraltar cannot decide on its own to stay in the EU. – Taladris Apr 9 '17 at 7:02
  • Furthermore, the UK cannot grant independence to Gibraltar without Spain's consent. – phoog Apr 9 '17 at 23:21
  • @phoog but that isn't an analogy - I specifically say that they're different. I actually included that to stop anyone else from making an analogy to them, because it would (I agree) not be appropriate. – arboviral Apr 10 '17 at 6:19

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