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United Kingdom : UK action regarding situation in Gibraltar.

William Hague has updated Parliament on UK action regarding unacceptable Spanish/Gibraltar boarder delays and illegal incursions into BGTW.

Since 26 July, attempts by the Spanish government to exert pressure on Gibraltar and its people have increased significantly. Disproportionate and time-consuming checks have been introduced at the Gibraltar-Spain border, leading to delays of up to seven hours. At those same borders we have seen ambulances being searched and prohibitions placed on the transport of essential building materials. The Government of Spain has in addition publicly made a series of threats of further action. In parallel, beginning in April 2012, Spanish state vessels have continued to make multiple illegal incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW).

These actions and threats are wholly unacceptable. The impact of the border delays has been felt most severely by local citizens, both Gibraltarians and the thousands of Spanish commuters who benefit from employment in Gibraltar. As well as having to endure long delays in hot weather, people crossing the border have reported aggressive behaviour by the teams of Guardia Civil officers brought from other parts of Spain to conduct the enhanced checks. There have been disturbing reports of Gibraltar licensed cars being burnt or vandalised in Spain. The ban on importing certain materials is already impacting on infrastructure projects and the reduction in the number of people able to cross the border has reduced retail sales. The heightened rhetoric from the Spanish Foreign Minister is also concerning.

These measures are disproportionate and obviously politically motivated, having been introduced immediately after the lawful creation by the Government of Gibraltar of an artificial reef in BGTW. They are also unlawful under EU law. By contrast the creation of the reef was legal and is part of the Government of Gibraltar s long term marine environmental management plan designed to improve fish stocks and regenerate habitat. The use of inert concrete blocks to create artificial reefs is consistent with international best practice and with the Government of Spain s own approach to artificial reefs.

The Government has responded to these developments robustly and in close concert with the Government of Gibraltar. Our aim is to ensure that Gibraltarians can go about their business unhampered and free from intimidation, and to uphold the rights and interests of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:4EXGI
Date:Sep 3, 2013
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