In Gibraltar Europe meets – still | TIME ONLINE


A rattling fills the morning when scooters and wheels keep the cars to the limit, past a line of cars moving from Spain to Gibraltar pushes. In between, pedestrians who are purposefully passing through the checkpoints, holding the ID in front of them. For about 10,000 Spaniards, this is the daily route to work. They are leaving their country for this because of the free movement of workers, which allows them to work in the UK's overseas territory in the booming tourism sector. Europe is meeting in Gibraltar. Still. Because soon could be in the south of Spain, an EU external border.

The United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum Do not want the 35,000 Gibraltarians who belong to Great Britain since the 18th century. With 96 percent, they voted to stay in the EU. Two Brexit dates have passed without result, and if and when Britain really leaves the EU, is open. And that's why the British and Gibraltarians have to vote for the EU Parliament on 23 May.

"We are proud to be British"

The Brexit is not on the ballot and still plays a central role. On the island, the Brexit party of Nigel Farrage is ahead in polls. And in Gibraltar too, a local newspaper headlines: "EU Election – A Second Brexit Referendum" – in English and Spanish, as people move through the streets of the old city, past blue, pink, green colonial houses with shutters and lattice balconies, both languages ​​speak. Spaniards in England, England in SpainDefining Gibraltar is difficult.

"We are proud to be British," says 44-year-old Fiona, a saleswoman in one of the many jewelry stores on Main Street. She has blue eyes and blond, chin-length hair. "But basically we are a mixture of nationalities and feelings, my mother is German, my daughter is half Spanish."

Around the corner, 40-year-old Ancy Fernandes tries to win guests over for her curry and sushi restaurant. She remembers the day of the Brexit referendum: "The streets were empty, it was like someone from the family had died, there was no laughter and no music, you could feel the fear and sadness in the air." Spaniards and Britons have no problem with each other in Gibraltar, she says. But they doubt that London and Madrid understand that.

For 300 years the two naval powers have been arguing about the headland. Between 1969 and 1985, Spain closed the border after the Gibraltarians voted 99 percent in a referendum to remain under British sovereignty. The contact with the outside world broke off for the Gibraltarians over 15 years, there was no fresh vegetables, meat or milk. Families were torn apart.

An emergency plan for the hard limit

In response to the Brexit result, Spain has immediately renewed its claims. At that time, Spain opened the border only because it was an accession condition to the EU, says Joseph Garcia, deputy chief minister of Gibraltar for Brexit affairs. What happens when the British leave the EU is open.

Of course, Gibraltar will quit with Britain. They respect the decision of their country, even though, as Garcia says, people in the UK can not possibly imagine what it's like to have different identities, to live in a "microcosm of the European project". Also restaurant operator Fernandes says: "We are proud British, but are the British too proud to have us?" With his worries Gibraltar is left alone in the kingdom. "We have no one else here, only sea and Africa."

In the case of a hard limit, there is an emergency plan: patients would be flown to the UK at the expense of the Gibraltar government. If the local hospital is overwhelmed, patients can currently choose to move to Spain. The supply of everyday objects would then run by sea and air. Manpower should come from Morocco.

Will it get this far? The Gibraltarians vacillate between confidence and hope. In this mood, James Glancy and Luke Stagnetto try to promote the European Parliament.

Glancy flew to Gibraltar for the Brexit party. In Gibraltar, Glancy is greeted with a different mood than at home: "How do you expect the visit to bring you a political gain?" The journalist confronts him from a local branch of the BBC with the first interview question. Glancy was a marine and three times in Afghanistan. He got the second highest bravery award from the Queen. Explaining to the Europe-friendly Gibraltarians why Brexit makes sense for them is a new challenge.

He says there are Spanish government officials working at European level to discriminate against Gibraltar. "The EU will continue to integrate and there will be a European army to station its ships in Gibraltar in ten years," he says, promising that only a common exit from the EU will save Gibraltar from Spain.

If the Spaniards control, there is traffic jam

Luke Stagnetto is one of the Liberal Democrats living in Gibraltar
govern and sit in a parliamentary group with the FDP in the European Parliament. According to the motto "Revoke, referendum, remain." Do you want Brexit?
 prevent. 21-year-old Stagnetto is the only EU candidate to be elected
from Gibraltar, and he is the youngest in Great Britain, He has dark
Hair, a manicured three days beard and he smiles. The
Support in Gibraltar is great. The Brexit referendum was for him
the first choice and the deciding reason, even in politics too
go. He wants to represent his generation with the consequences of the
Brexits has to live, as well as his homeland. He also sees in the EU election a second Brexit referendum. A hope to which the
Gibraltar cling.

The Spaniards as a great imperial neighbor, argues the other hand, the Brexit party. And sometimes that really feels like it, Fiona thinks, "There are days when the cars are jammed up to the beach because the Spanish border guards check every vehicle." This is possible because Gibraltar, like Britain, is not part of the Schengen Agreement.

Even the 38-year-old Inga complains about the Spaniards. "They always find a way to attack us, and they should be grateful that Spain benefits us economically." She's in the perfume shop of friends and talks to them about everything except politics. "There are so many different nationalities here, and a friendship can break in a failed discussion." Inga will not participate in the EU election.

Fiona, on the other hand, will certainly vote because Gibraltar has had to fight for the right to vote before the European Court of Human Rights and only since 2004. She does not know who she should vote for.