Gibraltar row: Cameron asks EU to monitor border checks

Motorists queue at the border crossing between Spain and Gibraltar in La Linea de la Concepcion, 13 August There have been long queues at the Gibraltar border this week

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Britain has asked the EU to "urgently" send a team to Gibraltar "to gather evidence" on extra border checks at the centre of a growing row with Spain.

PM David Cameron spoke to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to raise "serious concerns" that Spain's actions are "politically motivated".

Britain says the checks break EU free movement rules but Spain says Gibraltar has not controlled smuggling.

A team of EU monitors had been due to go to the Gibraltar border next month.

But Mr Cameron wants the monitors to be sent there immediately.

Spain claims sovereignty over Gibraltar, which is a British overseas territory. There have been lengthy traffic delays at its border with Spain since the extra checks began.

The UK says it is considering legal action over the checks, which Spain argues are needed to stop smuggling and are proportionate.

Spain also denies they have been imposed in retaliation for an artificial reef installed by Gibraltar which Spain says will disrupt its fishing fleet.

'Sporadic nature'

Downing Street said on Friday that Mr Cameron had called Mr Barroso to raise "serious concerns" that Spain's actions were politically motivated and "disproportionate" - and broke EU rules on freedom of movement.

He said the UK wanted to resolve the row through "political dialogue".

But as the checks continued, Mr Cameron added, the UK was "collating evidence on the sporadic nature of these measures which would prove that they are illegitimate".

"In the meantime, we believe that the European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, should investigate the issue," a Downing Street spokesman said.

He said the prime minister had urged President Barroso to "send an EU monitoring team to the Gibraltar-Spain border urgently to gather evidence of the checks that are being carried out".

"The PM emphasised that the Commission has a responsibility to do this as part of its role overseeing the application of [European] Union law," added the Downing Street spokesman.

A European Commission spokesman said President Barroso had told Mr Cameron the situation was being monitored to "ensure respect for EU law".

"President Barroso also expects that this matter is addressed between the two countries concerned in a way that is in line with their common membership of the EU," the spokesman added.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is also due to speak to his Spanish counterpart, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, to press the UK government's concerns.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    when all this kicked off, there was TV footage shown of these blocks being dropped off the back of the barge. They were only a couple of hundred yards from the shore, so how can this be classed as 'fishing grounds' by the Spanish? Now they say its an anti tobacco smuggling measure. The Spanish are inventing pathetic reasons to justify their pettiness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    On the off chance some African nation decided to claim the Falklands, they have about as much right to as us, you know Cameron would turn to Argentina and beg for help.

    He is a spineless shape shifting man with no more tact than a fart in a lift.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Mother in law lives in Spain, often visits Gibraltar. She has a Spanish registered car so gets waved straight through when she gets to the border checks. There's nothing new in this, it's all happened before, this time it's really about that artificial reef thats been created to keep Spanish shellfish fishermen out of Gib's waters. It will all blow over given time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    The Spanish politicians just started this row to distract the Spanish voters from the economic problems at home. Many people in Spain know this anyway, so it isn't working.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Gibralter has been british for over 300 years now.
    Spain itself did not exist 300 years before that.

    Gibralter has been british for longer than it was ever Spanish.
    Do the Spanish also claim Portugal, Andorra and France as they are also physically connected to Spain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    This is just the Spanish government throwing their toys out of the pram, It is also proving to be a good distraction from the Spanish prime ministers corruption scandal.
    Sending in EU commissioners in will do nothing as the EU has shown bias against UK in recent years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Raise Nelson....Cry havoc!....England expects and all that.....we shall see these desperadoes defeated and claim the Costas for our own!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Just dont let the spanish into the UK fullstop or for Gibraltar to just close the border. But maybe better still everyone stop going to Spain on holiday, Spain will soon buckle as they depend on the Brits going there on holiday.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Maybe we should take note and introduce similar rigorous checks at our borders. Let's see what the EU do then when their are tailbacks from Calais to Madrid and beyond.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I note that some friends from the US are already cancelling or at least shortening their visits to Spain. It would seem to me that the Spanish Politicians are up to the same tricks as the others from all over the world. The UK population should cancel and go to Italy, food and wine is better there anyway. Also crime may be lower.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Seems a petty response by Spain, but Britain has had a habit of helping itself to the territory and possessions of others for centuries. What you reap is what you sow...

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    If Spain hands back to Morocco its "Gibraltar's" in North Africa, we should reciprocate by returning this 'tax efficient areas' clinging to the UK. The UK attachment suits Gibraltar more than it does the vast majority of the UK's citizens. Next the other tax havens then the Elgin Marbles!

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The UK/Gibraltar should get rid of its silly, concrete artificial reef.
    That is what is causing the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Do not worry about it at all people - remember - we are all in it together.

    We can always borrow the French Aircraft Carrier - their planes too - Oh and maybe their men also.

    Might as well give Gibraltar to Spain as a friendly gesture - especially now that we have hardly any navy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Is there any chance of a British section of an International Brigade going to defend Gibralter, like in the super duper Spanish Civil War where volunteers went there shouting no pasaran, or something similar to what the UAF shout in our streets. Could be more fun than fighting the battle in Balcombe or Tower Hamlets. Non Pasaran as they say: We are Gibralter, Cairo, Balcombe and all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Spanish Officials are now beating the same drum as the
    Argentinian Politicians.
    Anything to divert their voters from the REAL issues
    eg - Corruption of the "serving" Patry!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    All this nonsense over a few stones!
    Come on Britain do the right thing.........its Spanish water, just take the stones out until you get the correct permission....its so easy. no need for EU to be involved, no need to spend more taxpayers money to fight a non- objective cause ,its obvious who is in the wrong, why make a mountain out of a molehill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    hmmm... maybe Spain would welcome a 'blockade' of Ceuta, Spain's 'Gib' mirror in Morroco...sorry, next to Morroco. .?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Just stop Spanish lorries coming to UK to stop smuggling of drugs tobacco and people, if they have perishable goods then hold them in Dover for a week to check paperwork .


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