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The Spanish government considers the latest British offer over Brexit and future negotiations over Gibraltar to be insufficient. As such, it is still withholding its agreement with the deal, according to government sources.

"After the meeting in Brussels, we still don't have all the guarantees we want over Gibraltar,  we cannot consider there to be an agreement", the sources said, referring to today's meetings in the Belgian capital.

The sources say that it is currently too early to say whether prime minister Pedro Sánchez, today visiting Cuba, will attend Sunday's European Council meeting or not. The expectation had been for the EU to sign off on the draft Withdrawal Agreement there. They suggest it would be inconceivable for the meeting to be held with only 26 member states present, and for approval to be given without Spain.

Gibraltar: stumbling Rock

Sources close to Sánchez said, without going into details, that the previous PP government was not ambitious enough in negotiations. So far, negotiations have been over the UK's withdrawal from the EU itself; now attentions turn to future relations, which is where the bone of contention lies.

Spain wants both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration to make it clear than any final agreement on future relations will not apply to Gibraltar without prior Spanish consent.

In Brussels, Spain's junior minister for the EU, Marco Aguiriano, revealed that the Spanish government was studying a British offer by which Westminster would make a commitment that no agreement between themselves and the EU would apply to Gibraltar without Spanish agreement. Now, the Spanish executive has made it clear that that's insufficient for them.

Spain's position

The Spanish government has said this morning that they want it made clear in the Withdrawal Agreement that Spain has the final say over Gibraltar and that matters affecting the Strait should be dealt with directly between Spain and the UK. After today's cabinet meeting, government spokesperson Isabel Celaá said that the government "is clear and determined that it should be absolutely guaranteed that any agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom will have to have the prior approval of Spain".

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