British officials have begun "serious work" on the United Kingdom staying in a permanent EU customs union as a way to rescue the Brexit deal, the Independent newspaper reported on Friday.
The original version requested by Spain was to be more strongly worded, given that nation's territorial desires over Gibraltar, but that was rejected by France who also have territories so described by the United Nations, reports The Guardian. "There is a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty over Gibraltar, a territory for which a solution has to be reached in light of the relevant resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations", the European Union document says.
Meanwhile, Arnaud de Bresson, chief executive of French business network Paris Europlace, said about 260 businesses, which principally operate from the United Kingdom, are "in the phase of confirmation and implementation" ahead of moving some operations to France. The port at the mouth of the Mediterranean, ceded to Britain by Spain in 1713 after a war, was a "crown colony" when Britain joined the European bloc in 1973 but London reclassified it as a "British overseas territory" in 2002.
Theresa May said Gibraltar was a full part of the "UK family" and that would not change after Brexit on Friday March 29.
Spanish diplomatic sources said on Tuesday that Madrid would insist on excluding Gibraltar from any Brexit deal, as it plans to revive its bid for shared sovereignty over the rocky outpost.
"The Union position...was the British position.", the official said.
"We will always take the side of a member against a non-member".
It will be possible to travel to and around the European Union for up to three months without a visa.
Gibraltar officials said the use of the term colony did not help to create a "climate of trust" between the territory and Spain.
"This demonstrates the importance of annual attendance at the sessions of the C-24 in NY each June, which the GSLP/Liberal Government is committed to and which the GSD administration had abandoned".
The BBC's Brussels reporter Adam Fleming said the Spanish government sees this as giving it a bigger say in the status of Gibraltar, and the issue is likely to be raised again as Brexit approaches, and beyond.
The final text of the proposal for visa-free travel has yet to be rubber stamped.
A European Parliament committee backed visa free travel earlier this week and the decision was signed off by EU ambassadors today.
The EU proposed allowing visa-free travel for Britons in November.