Spain protests over US-Gibraltar tax deal

5th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The tax information accord signed between the US and Gibraltar fails to mention the territory is under British sovereignty, says the Spanish government.

MADRID – Spain's government said Monday it has protested to Washington and London over a tax information accord signed between the US and Gibraltar as it suggests the contested territory is independent.

A foreign ministry official said Spain sees as "very positive anything that may boost fiscal transparency, but in this case the agreement was signed by the United States and Gibraltarian authorities" without mentioning that the territory is under British sovereignty.

He said the foreign ministry summoned the US high representative and the British ambassador to Spain in protest on 8 April, one week after the accord was signed in London by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Gibraltar Chief Minister Peter Caruana.

Only the flags of the United States and Britain can be seen behind the two men in a published photo of the deal-signing ceremony, raising eyebrows in Spain which disputes Gibraltar's sovereignty with Britain.

London quickly made it clear that British sovereignty over "The Rock", which lies off southern Spain at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, had in no way been altered or diminished, a Spanish diplomatic source said.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht but has retained a constitutional claim should Britain renounce sovereignty – a move that London says it will not happen without the consent of Gibraltarians.

Now a haven for tourism, shipping and offshore banking because of its favourable tax laws, its inhabitants overwhelmingly rejected an Anglo-Spanish proposal for co-sovereignty in a 2002 referendum.

The governments of Spain, Britain and Gibraltar set up a so-called tripartite forum in 2006 which seeks to normalise relations between Madrid and Gibraltar and work together on issues of concern to residents of ‘The Rock’.

AFP / Expatica

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