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 77.

    "Cameron asks EU to monitor border checks"

    Funny given that the conservatives are meant to be euro-skeptic

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Knick Knack Shop
    19 Minutes ago

    The only two things I've ever heard anyone say about Gibraltar following a visit is that they had a monkey climb on their shoulder and that it has a Marks and Spencers. That's it.

    Give Gibraltar back to the Spanish, or make them a deal and let them claim Cornwall or the Isle of Man."

    Do you even know where the Isle Of Man is @Knick Knack Shop? Thought not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The lumps of concrete were put in place to stop Spanish fishermen illegally trawling for fish in Gib waters - the key words being "illegally trawling"!
    Gibraltar is a strategic outpost that has been British for over 200 years and should remain British for at least the next 200 years.
    End of!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    So Nick Clegg is going to speak to his Spanish counterpart...OH DEAR.."cleggy" is a lib-dem,married to a Spanish women and has three sons all with Spanish need to guess whos side he will be on!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Nick Clegg, eh? That'll put the fear of god up the Spanish.


    Seriously, the UK can either:

    - Do nothing, as the Spanish won't be able to afford to keep this up for very long;

    - Start charging every Spanish vehicle 50 euros at Dover.

    Laughable really. I'd like to know how Spain thinks it can afford Gibraltar. Spain can't afford Spain.

    Wait it out - it will all blow over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    So the EU is the neural arbiter in a dispute between two nations a sensible precursor to the possible use of the European court although not linked. I have to wonder what Nigel Farage and UKIP would suggest as he supports neither institution and would like to withdraw from both., what would happen then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    government needs to issue a travel warning to uk holiday makers. That will affect the spanish where it matters, they might rethink there bully tactics....

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Maybe Mariano Rajoy Brey has been spending too much time on the phone to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Funny how both Governments are failing their people miserably whilst taking similar lines on British Overseas Territories, as both seem to be trying to isolate travel & free trade to the Falkland Islands & Gibraltar respectively!
    Someone tell them Gunboat Diplomacy doesn't work on the British!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Where do you start with this? Spain is a net recipient of EU funds or should I say UK & German funds mostly so for them to complain about damage to fishing is frankly a joke. Still now you know where the Argies get it from since they are nothing more than Spanish colonists who killed of the native americans that lived there. Economy in the toilet. 57% youth unemployment. Oh dear diversion required

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    This is gold for Mr. Cameron and the press, who cares anymore about rail fares shooting up or inflation getting funny, there is always Gib and Bale, wonderful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    How would people feel if thousands of Spanish moved to, say Yorkshire, and then a vote was held to make Yorkshire part of spain - because of the thousands of spanish settlers, the vote would be yes, be part of spain.
    Is this right? Should popular vote decide the future of the land... if so, what is to stop the spanish, or any other nationality (polish, iraqi, etc) moving here and doing just that!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Franco closed the border in 1969, thousands from La LĂ­nea lost their jobs in Gibraltar. Draw a line across from Estepona, you can guarantee that everyone south of that line will be out of a job if Gibraltar becomes part of Spain and loses its special tax status, or if the border closes. Andalusia is already bankrupt, they can't afford this. Nor can Spain. The whole thing is preposterous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Colonialism is not about democracy, it is about planting a settler population to claim land.

    We did this after conquering Gibraltar - though to be fair, Spain did formally cede Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity so it is rightfully ours.

    But I think the government & people of the UK would behave in exactly the same way if Cornwall were part of France; let's not pretend to be moral superiors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    War's a racket, but it might cause a bit of economic growth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    In order to prevent further bloodshed, Spain allowed England/Britain to keep Gibraltar, ending all Spanish claims to it. The people there have chosen to remain British.

    There is a parallel to Argentina's claim over the Falklands: It's entirely baseless.

    For those asking why we don't "give them back", Falklands never belonged to Argentina, and Spain gave up its claim to Gibraltar in 1713.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I wish Thatcher was still around, she would not have stood for any of this nonsense and we would not even have heard a peep out of the Spanish.

    Send in the SAS

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    So smuggling isn`t a problem with Spains borders with France and Portugal then. Seems a tad convenient that it`s only Gibraltar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Can we not persuade Morocco to kick off about Ceuta & Melilla?

    Anyway, surely Spain can see that until they give up Ceuta there is little chance of them getting Gib because then they'd control the Straits of Gibraltar. Plus we could demand recompense (at today's prices) for the improvements we have made there. They couldn't afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    C'mon the Winston Boys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    #3 said: "It's hundreds of miles away from us. Give it back. What do we need it for?"

    In Britain, local people don't want companies fracking for gas in their back yard. Everyone understands that.

    Well, in Gibraltar, the local people don't want the UK to give their back yard to Spain. Why is that so difficult to understand? How would you like your home handed over to a foreign country?


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