And rightly so! Rock wins power to block all deals over sovereignty By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor (Filed: 17/12/2004) Gibraltar scored a diplomatic victory yesterday when it gained equal status with Britain and Spain in securing a veto over any talks on the colony's future. Negotiations on sharing sovereignty over the Rock collapsed in 2002 because of strong opposition from Gibraltar, which had boycotted the talks in protest that it would be treated as subordinate to Britain. The election this year of the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has changed the climate. Madrid has set aside its claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar - which it lost to Britain 300 years ago - to concentrate on practical issues and winning over Gibraltarians. The old format of negotiations under the "Brussels process" has been effectively suspended and replaced with a "forum" for discussions. According to a joint statement, "dialogue will be on an open-agenda basis and, therefore, any of the participants may raise any issue relating to or affecting Gibraltar". Spain can still discuss sovereignty but Gibraltar's government can block any deal. The document promises: "Each of the three parties will have its own separate voice and each will participate on the same basis". It adds: "All three participants must agree any decisions or agreements reached within the forum." Any question of changing Gibraltar's constitutional status would ostensibly be a bilateral question between Madrid and London. But the agreement spells out that "the UK will not agree thereto without the government of Gibraltar's consent". The forum is expected to meet at least once a year and may create working groups to address specific problems.