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It seems fairly clear (or at least plausible) what Spain was hoping to gain by NATO membership, which was consummated as a rather later affair in the closing decade of the Cold War:

The main reasons why the Government of Spain sought membership of the Atlantic Alliance were geopolitical, however. Given its military vulnerability, Spain, a country on the Iberian Peninsula, wanted to join NATO so as to guarantee its territorial integrity and thereby reinforce the security of the Balearic– Gibraltar Strait–Canary Islands axis by protecting it from possible foreign expansionism, principally from Morocco, which, having annexed Ifni and Western Sahara, now had ambitions to conquer the two Spanish cities in North Africa: Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish Government furthermore feared potential offensive posturing by two other North African countries, Algeria and Libya, which were in the Soviet orbit. The Government also stated that Spain’s entry into NATO would merely ratify de jure a situation that already existed de facto under its agreements with the United States, namely the fact that Spain belonged to the Western defence system. Spain was also convinced that joining NATO would break the deadlock in negotiations for entry into the European Economic Community.

The [Socialist] Spanish government even put out a pamphlet that they were not giving up on the the goal of recovering Gibraltar by joining NATO. Despite these apparently convincing points, the Spanish population wasn't incredibly sold on the matter, with the NATO membership referendum in Spain passing with (just) 52.5% in favor.

It's not unheard of for countries to oppose NATO membership of those with whom they have some territorial dispute[s] with. So, I'm curious why did the UK agree to Spain's NATO membership seemingly without any concession from Spain on the matter of Gibraltar. Were there e.g. any discussions in UK's Parliament on the matter of getting some concessions from Spain regarding Gibraltar in relation to Spain's NATO accession? Were there overriding considerations?

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    What concessions does the UK need from Spain with regard to Gibraltar? There was zero chance of Spain taking it by force before their acceptance into NATO, and even less afterward, theres no change in the UK stance on Gibraltar one way or the other, and the people of Gibraltar don't want to become Spanish (long been settled). So what concessions did the UK need? Spain to stop with its claims? Wouldn't that be seen as overbearing by the UK when they can just continue to ignore Spain on the matter?
    – user16741
    Aug 23 at 5:22
  • @Moo: because the continued Spanish claim, even if just "on paper", has made various UK foreign affairs matters more difficult e.g. the whole Spanish "veto" over Gibraltar in Brexit talks, to pick a recent example. N.B. Spain had already lifted its land embargo in 1982, so in a sense they had made a concession.
    – Fizz
    Aug 23 at 6:03
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    The supposed veto in Brexit didnt really amount to much, did it?
    – user16741
    Aug 23 at 6:26
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    I don't know where you have got your quote from, but I seriously doubt fears of aggresion by Morocco or any other north-african country played any part in Spain decission to join NATO. Spain could be weak, militarly speacking, yet an order of magnitude stronger than any of those possible foes. Joining NATO was a movement towards western recognition and integration in the greater world after 40 years of isolation of the francoist regime. Spain was looking for its place under the sun.
    – Rekesoft
    Aug 23 at 6:44
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    I find it difficult to imagine that Spanish concessions on Gibraltar would have been of significant strategic value to the UK compared to Spanish membership in NATO. Starting a fight over the former would have jeopardized the latter.
    – Kevin
    Aug 24 at 20:58
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What concessions does the UK need from Spain with regard to Gibraltar? There was zero chance of Spain taking it by force before their acceptance into NATO, and even less afterwards, theres no change in the UK stance on Gibraltar one way or the other, and the people of Gibraltar don't want to become Spanish (long been settled). So what concessions did the UK need? Spain to stop with its claims? Wouldn't that be seen as overbearing by the UK when they can just continue to ignore Spain on the matter? @Moo

I seriously doubt fears of aggression by Morocco or any other North-African country played any part in Spain decision to join NATO. Spain could be weak, militarily speaking, yet an order of magnitude stronger than any of those possible foes. Joining NATO was a movement towards western recognition and integration in the greater world after 40 years of isolation under the Francoist regime. Spain was looking for its place under the sun. @Rekesoft

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  • converting comments to CW
    – James K
    Sep 18 at 17:48
  • The people of Crimea don't want to be Ukrainian and the Palestinians do not want to be under a Jewish State, but the wishes of the people are disregarded in these cases. Sep 18 at 18:05
  • Did you post that comment on the wrong question? This one is about Spain's membership of NATO.
    – James K
    Sep 18 at 18:27
  • And if you think the Crimean people are "disregarded" by Russia... where have you been in the last seven years! If you think the Palestinian people are disregarded by the Arab world where have you been for the last 70!!
    – James K
    Sep 18 at 18:28
  • But both are disregarded by the UK, I don't know about Spain. I don't know how it is relevant what the people think. Sep 18 at 20:59

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