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Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 13.08.2013 (Article Archived on 10.09.2013)

The Prime Minister, said a spokesman, was very disappointed by Spain's failure to remove the checks over the weekend. But for Falkland Islanders this masking is deja vu




By J. Brock (FINN)


A statement from Downing Street on Monday said that the UK is considering legal action against Spain for frustrating and thwarting motorists and trade at the border between Spain and Gibraltar.  The Prime Minister, said a spokesman, was very disappointed by Spain's failure to remove the checks over the weekend.  But for Falkland Islanders this masking is deja vu


When the spokesman added that legal action through the EU would be unprecedented and the Spanish government, which has said its checks are essential to stop smuggling, said it would not relax border controls, Islanders felt that the bravado was more emotional bait and switch than a dragnet for cigarette smugglers.   He went on to say that it is not clear what the legal options were, the spokesman added, saying it would be up to the EU to explain any possible sanctions but I hope they take into account Spainís economy and double digit unemployment figures before coming to a final decision.


Yes, Britain could eventually take a case to the European Court of Justice. But we know that Gibraltar is a British overseas territory and part of the EU. However, border checks are permitted because neither Britain nor Gibraltar are part of the Schengen group of countries which have ended border checks.   Unwarranted and excessive could be illegal would be an unprecedented step so I am sure HMG would consider it carefully before a making a decision to pursue.


On the other hand, Spain has a mandate to police the border and insists its controls were legal and proportionate and was considering taking the dispute to the UN Security Council, where it could seek Argentine support.


There were similarities between the Falklands and Gibraltar disputes and issues to be raised at the UN could include disputed waters, Britain's failure to comply with previous UN resolutions and the disputed stretch of land which links Gibraltar and Spain.  One of those similarities is the 1982 invasion of the Falklands where the euphoria masked an impossible Argentine economy.  We trust that things wonít get that bad in Spain.


Gibraltarís creation of an artificial reef to attract marine life caused an argument because the Spanish say it will destroy fishing in the area.  As a result Madrid stepped up border controls, causing traffic queues, and a threatened 50 euro (£43) fee to be levied against every vehicle entering or leaving the British territory.


Spain's actions "disproportionate and politically motivated,Ē said the Downing street spokesman.  "If we go down this route, we would press upon the EU the need to pursue this with a matter of urgency," he continued.


Ashley Fox, Conservative MEP, representing south-west England and Gibraltar, said that Spain's actions were motivated by political and economic weaknesses in the country, not a "fishing dispute" with Gibraltar and "harassing" Gibraltar was intended to take public focus in Spain off domestic issues.


HMS Westminster is due to visit Gibraltar before heading for the Middle East but the British Overseas Territory has been spared erroneous reports of a nuclear sub that were touted when the Falklands began the second hydrocarbons exploration round in 2010.


The European Commission said it would send a team of monitors to the border to examine the situation, but they are not expected to arrive until next month or October.


Drivers in Gibraltar have reported waiting up to seven hours at the border in recent weeks, with the longest queues forming at weekends when Gibraltarians with property in Spain and Spanish Citizens with property in Gibraltar go their separate ways.  Ditto for those who reside and work in different jurisdictions.


Perhaps the philosophy should be applied to Britain and Spain over Gibraltar.


This article is the Property and Copyright of Falkland Islands News Network.

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