32 In December 2004, Spain and the United Kingdom set up the Trilateral Forum and a Joint Commission for the Improvement of Cross-border Cooperation. The Forum had brought significant tangible benefits to Gibraltarians on a number of technical issues. Gibraltar participates fully in these discussions and attaches great importance to their parity with the British and Spanish Governments. Until now, Spain had refused to accept Gibraltar as a direct interlocutor. The three parties initially agreed that these practical agreements would have no impact on sovereignty, jurisdiction or control. The Spanish expectation is that the forum and the Brussels process will take place in parallel. 20 The United Kingdom acknowledges, however, that Gibraltar cannot become independent without Spain`s agreement. If the right to external self-determination did apply to Gibraltarians and the territory they inhabited, it would be difficult to introduce into a single text the State practice of decolonization after 1945, with Spain`s right of pre-emption under the Treaty of Utrecht. This tension is due to the evolution of international law since the negotiation of the treaty. At that time, it was customary to cede territory, regardless of the inhabitants. Three hundred years later, international law has moved away from the view that responsibility for territory is simply equated with property. To the west, Gibraltar adjoins the Bay of Gibraltar (Algeciras) and to the south the Strait of Gibraltar (Gibraltar, Strait of), an important route for international maritime transport between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.
As the guardian of the western entrance to the Mediterranean, the Gibraltar Naval Base was of great strategic importance during both world wars. 25 In the early 1990s, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar began to think about how to modernise the Constitution of Gibraltar. The resulting Gibraltar Constitution Order of 2006 gives increased powers to elected officials and reduces the role of appointees by the British government. The 1969 Constitution contained a closed list of issues that were transferred to Gibraltar. The 2006 Constitution communicates all matters to the Government of Gibraltar, with the exception of an exhaustive list of the Specific Powers of the Governor. Rather, it is a new agreement that obliges Gibraltar to align with EU legislation on transparency, administrative cooperation, harmful tax practices and the fight against post-Brexit money laundering. . .