The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, warned yesterday in the Senate that the EU should not “take a step back” in the negotiations with the United Kingdom on the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol for Northern Ireland, after Boris Johnson’s Government has threatened to unilaterally modify these two texts agreed with Brussels after Brexit.
“The Government of Spain is not going to accept the renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement or the Protocol on Northern Ireland,” the minister assured before the Plenary of the Upper House in response to a question from Gorka Elejabarrieta, of EH Bildu.
According to Albares, both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Northern Ireland represent the “best safeguard” for the single market, and “safeguarding the single market is the best safeguard for the Good Friday agreements”, a “historic achievement” that made it possible to achieve peace in a region in which “too much innocent blood was shed for too many years”.
For this reason, the minister expressed his conviction that, although it is still “premature to know” whether London will carry out its threat to act unilaterally, “the EU, I have no doubt, and the Spanish government would support it, will respond firmly, using the dispute resolution mechanism provided for in the agreement itself”.
He himself, he assured, has personally transmitted to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, who is in charge of the negotiations with London, Spain’s position in favor of “not giving a single step back” and has conveyed to the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss, his “firmest rejection” of any renegotiation of the agreement, as well as to his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, with whom he met in Madrid on May 12.
Precisely, during the press conference following his meeting with Coveney in Madrid, Albares expressed Spain’s “solidarity” with the Republic of Ireland due to the impasse in the negotiations and warned that “the agreements between the EU and the United Kingdom, like all international agreements, must be respected and, therefore, I do not want to consider as a hypothesis any alternative to respecting international agreements, including the Withdrawal Agreement”. Likewise, he assured that the lack of progress regarding Northern Ireland should not affect the negotiations on Gibraltar because “they are two separate negotiations” and “have no more in common” than the participation of the British Government.