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 37.

    The UK tends to support the view that the people who live in a nationally defineable area, should have the right to decide thier own future. Which is why Scotland is being allowed to vote on exactly this issue. As have many former British colonies.

    Spain it seems does not recognise this principle.

    I wonder...who exactly is being colonial....??

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Who cares? Are there not more important issues to be concentrating on... such as creating more job opportunities here in the UK just to mention one of them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    It is very childish. Just ignore it all and folk will get bored.

    What are the Spanish doing about there tiny wee toe-holds on the south side of the straights? Giving them back?

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    That is a silly response. Boycotting Spanish goods will not achieve anything politically; it will only hurt innocent Spanish businesses and workers trying to make a living.

    This xenophobia just makes national disputes more irrational than they already are. The dispute is between governments - the people of Spain are our friends.

    Also, the President of the Commission is actually Portuguese.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Im sure a boycott of Spanish holidays and Online sales will make them realise it will cost them a lot more than us. Spain is already low on the list in my eyes for its animal cruelty issues so this just adds fuel to the fire.

    See sense Spain please before it costs a lot more than wasted border time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Those who say 'give it back' do not appreciate that Gibraltar is the home of the Gibraltarians, in 1704 Britain captured a rock. We have built schools, hospitals, a new air terminal, housing and a modern infrastructure to provide for our future, We are economically self-sufficient and despite the defamation from Spain not criminals we want to be left in peace not discarded like a pawn in chess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I moved from French wine to Spanish after the BSE crisis.
    Might have to try Italian now.
    It might not change their minds, but it's fun trying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    the fact that it so obviously political and yet the Spanish can look into a camera with a straight face and deny it tells the world that the EU will do foxtrot oscar

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @8 paulthebadger
    Two problems in your reasoning... ever heard of fox hunting? And the EU commisioner is Portuguese, actually.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Send a few of the EU commissioners over there.

    Hopefully they won't come back and we will save the parasite's seven figure salaries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Britain is used as a 'flag of convenience' by these want to be 'Brits' so they don't have to pay any tax! The Spanish have not mentioned sovereignty and the financial mess has been going on for a few years now!! This has been slowly smouldering over the last 18 months the 'building of an artificial reef ' or should i say dumping 70 spiked concrete blocks weighing 2 tons each, being the last straw

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Can't believe the Spanish consider this island a few metres off their coast in the Mediterranean to be Spanish, it's obviously part of England!
    They're still sore that while we conquered three quarters of the world, they were left with South America. Mind you they did get all the gold and the best footballers while all we got was tobacco, opium, immigration, the Falklands and of course Gibraltar!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    If Spain does not halt this aggressive respoonse to divert attention from its domestic woes, it should start to think what a 2014 summer without British tourists will do to their economy.
    Let's get tough too

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.


    It's kicking off in Egypt with perpetually angry hordes,... again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    We have big problems lets stir up the public with a bit of nationalistic jingoism and revive the Gibraltar is Spanish line.
    I suggest tourists boycott Spanish resorts in retaliation, lets see how they fare then !
    The smuggling excuse is bogus they are delaying people entering Gib thats exporting !

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Many Spanish people and businesses are doing trade 'off the books' to avoid paying tax. So I find it ironic that they are cracking down on this by targeting Gibraltar. One of the main exports of Spain is fresh produce so I suggest boats and lorries with Spanish markings are subject to lengthy checks before entering the UK, at least until the produce starts to spoil :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Even people in Spain think that the Spanish government is doing this to divert domestic attention away from other, far more serious problems such as their failed economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    EU free movement rules - did anyone consider they aren't working, never have & never will. Spain should have the only say with Gibraltar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I used to think the commonwealth countries were useful to ordinary Brits like me... for example, I thought id be able to live in the Cayman islands, seeing as i can get quite a nice job there and all i'd need to use is my British passport. However we cannot live in those states... we have to apply for visa... so what use are they to regular tax payers? I say let them go, they cost us money to run

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    So he invites them to help us maintain land boarders, but he complains like a little kid as soon as the EU tries to regulate our fraud ridden banks, he complains when they try to help us maintain a good human rights record, something we'd fail at pretty hard without them watching out for us. (some think we already fail at it.)

    Yet he sees fit to beg there assistance to help him keep a rock. Mad.


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