Tensions rise between UK and Spain over Gibraltar

LAST UPDATED: 4 Aug, 2013 @ 23:45
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Tensions rise between UK and Spain over Gibraltar

BRITAIN’S Foreign Office says it is “concerned” over comments made by Spain’s foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, who said the introduction of a €50 border crossing fee and closure of airspace to planes heading to Gibraltar airport were being considered.

He told Spain’s ABC newspaper that tax investigations into thousands of Gibraltarians who own property in Spain could also be launched.

The comments come after recent “disproportionate checks” at the border which saw some people waiting up to seven hours in sweltering heat.

Gibraltar has complained to the European Commission, saying the checks violate EU rules on free circulation.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are concerned by today’s comments on Gibraltar, which we are looking into further.

“We will not compromise on our sovereignty over Gibraltar, nor our commitment to its people. We continue to use all necessary measures to safeguard British sovereignty.”

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister added, “People in Gibraltar will no doubt remain very calm in light of the continued provocations which have appeared in the Spanish press this weekend. In this light, I welcome the statement by the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague today confirming that the United Kingdom will be seeking explanations from Spain in respect of their recent statements and actions. Sabre rattling and threatening of the sort attributed to Senor Margallo today do nothing for the establishment of strong cross frontier relations.”

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44 COMMENTS

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  1. British Tourisim is critical to the ailing Spanish economy, Spain is home to millions of Ex-pat Britons. Whilst I unbderstand the huge attraction of the Gibraltar situation to Spainsh politicians battling a dreadful economy and the potential of criminal proceedings relating to allegations about their acceptance of money, I suspect it is a little naive. The jingoisitic Red Top news in the UK will be urging a boycott of Spanish holidays in “support of our boys” and the operators of other holiday destinations arount he Med will be delighted. if this bit of politicking had a scoreline it would be Spanish Government 0 : Spanish Economy 0.

  2. It will all come to nothing. Pure speculation, but I think a list has already been compiled and sent to Madrid, with a copy to London, of all the influential Spanish clients who have legally acquired an account in Gibraltar even though they are actually avoiding paying tax in Spain. This list will not be published as it could bring down the present PP government.
    I do love a good, plausible story of intrigue but what if it were true?

  3. Oh my goodness!! El Fifi, if that turned out to be true, hopefully it will be sent by secure mail because you know how leaks tend to reach some sectors of the Spanish press. That surely would make their timbers tremble.
    Anyway didn’t the Gibraltar Government offer the Spanish Government or their reps to come to Gib and see how the financial side of things operate? And didn’t they refuse? Strange attitude when they keep claiming that Gib is a money laundering machine. I would have thought that they would be the first to jump at the offer.

  4. To charge a €50 “crossing fee” is ludicrous in the extreme, especially if it will only apply to non Spanish, as the Gibraltarian Government will only do exactly the same for the Spanish who come and work in Gibraltar every day (probably about 60% or more of La Linea. The town of La Linea would be come bankrupt and collapse.

    Why the Spanish continue after 300 years to carry on this aggression is beyond me. If they got Gibraltar back, what would they do with it. It certainly would not remain a duty free environment, and thus would lose its tourist attraction. There is no real need any more to have it a strategic base for any possible attack.

    The Gibraltarian people have voted twice, with massive landslide victories to stay under the british wing, rather than become part of Spain.

    I would think that the best thing to happen wold be to allow Gibraltar to become a country in its own right (LIke Andorra), and be part of the EU. Spain uses the excuse that, because it is a duty free port, they have to continually monitor the amount of cigarettes etc being brought into Spain. I do not believe for one moment this is their reason. Spain should stop living in the middle ages, and Rajoy should stop Madrid using every trick in the book to deflect examination of the real issues in Spain today, the main one of which continues to be rank corruption at the highest levels and down.

  5. Rajoy and his crooked cronies are doing exactly what Franco and his crooked bunch did all those years ago.
    He’s after the support of the millions of anti-British Spaniards who will relish his brand of racism.

  6. isnt this illegal and aginst human rights to charge a ridiculous fee to cross a frontier ? there are 3 fishing boats who are affected and only one who will not be able to fish as he uses drag nets – so all this for one fishing boat !!! Has Spain told you that they they use identical blocks of concrete to promote marine life / more protection in other parts of Spain – FACT. the fascist FRANCO era is sadly returning with the corrupt government only harming its own people in the process – block cement and materials coming into gibraltar – we will source them from UK or morocco ! A moronic nation headed by a corrupt fascist !!

  7. Could have been written by Stefanjo!
    Best thing they can do is invade like the Argies. The only difference is the Spanish have been “told” a lot more times than the Argentinians. Have they not lost enough good men and women trying to get back that tiny piece of land? Think I still have my catapult to fight the bully.

  8. A broke country trying to shift attention away from the mess. Maybe this would have worked 10 or 15 yeas ago, but not now. The British Foreign Office is just paying lip service and making all the right noises, however, in the background they know Spain is bankrupt and are desperate to create noise to move the focus onto something else, It becomes embarrassing as the rest of the world looks on.
    An alliance with North Africa maybe better suited than alliance with Northern Europe.

  9. The PP mayor of the town Baralla has apologised for having said the following,” Those who were condemned to death during Franco’s era probably deserved it.” Although this has nothing directly to do with the current Gibraltar situation, it is an indication of the type of politicians which make up the PP locally and nationally. Many are still old school fascists or descendants of. They might not wear the uniform and their policies might be restricted under the constitution but their ideology is still there behind the scenes. These are the types Gibraltar is currently facing.

  10. UK seems to have a problem with number of countries around the world most notably the recent conflicts surrounding the Falklands with Argentina and now Gibralter with Spain. They are already in war in Afhanistand and Iraq. Is there a single year in the history of UK, where they are not in conflicts with anyone.

  11. Before anybody asks.
    1. This town is near Lugo.
    2. He uttered his statement on the 26th July.
    3. He is, apart from mayor, a provincial delegate of the PP
    4. No, he hasn’t resigned.

  12. Ref Joe Observer
    1. You might remember, Argentina invaded The Falklands.
    2. Britain has been involved in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of NATO missions. Spain has also been part of those missions.

  13. Ever since Mr Garcia Margallo went on his first trip to Brussels and uttered “Gibraltar Espanol” to a British delegate you knew what the PP strategy towards The Rock was going to be. They have been constantly baiting the local authorities. Incursions by the Guardia Civil, border queues, accusations of money laundering, smuggling etc.
    Only one boat “fishes” in the area concerned. It’s called La Divina Providencia. It uses nets that are illegal in Spain, its mesh being too small.
    If it doesn’t catch anything because Gibraltar authorities prevent it, how can its captain afford the diesel or pay its crew. Could they be receiving financial help from somewhere?
    I remember a few years ago, picking shell fish at low tide on Catalan Bay beach. That area has been raked dead by the Spanish using methods not allowed by the EU.
    The Gibraltar Government tries to regenerate sea life by using Spanish made blocks that have been used all along the Andalusian coast and its called a provocation. The excuse Mr Rajoy and his cronies needed to implement their original policy.

  14. This is a stupid argument gibraltar BELONGS to the spanish not a bunch of jumped up, middle class, tax dodging little englanders who for the record screwed up england royally in the 70,s with thatcher (little bit of politics) and are now all in their 50,s and 60,s thinking they own the gaff.

  15. IPF is perhaps playing Devils Advocate, has some kind of axe to grind or more likely has been at the sangria. It wouldn’t appear from his letter that IPF has been educated in the UK or at all!

    You don’t have to be a resident of Gibraltar to know that the Spanish are behaving aggressively, dangerously and illegally.

    To coin a phrase they appear to be a jumped up bunch of middle class, tax dodging Fascists who are CONTINUING to screw up Spain thinking they own the gaff (Gibraltar). All this when the Law is plainly with the Gibraltarians and the EU will eventually have to impose some kind of sanctions. Perhaps independence for Andalusia might help where a proper appreciation of the importance of a good relationship is understood, considering the employment, tourism and expat CDS property owners contribution to the status quo.

  16. Whilst other northern Europeans have no real interest in the Gibraltar dispute, preferring just to think of it as a tourist attraction, the continual harassment of anyone from outside Spain is no doubt affecting their mindsets. Apart from the British there are hundreds of thousands of other expats taking a poor view of increased taxation and corruption. Spain is in danger of an even deeper recession with no friends outside it’s borders to help it

  17. @John Simpson
    Anybody who has any doubts that Spain is behaving aggressively, dangerously and illegally towards Gibraltar need only read the Exclusive lead story in panorama.gi

    If this is true then what else can we say!!

  18. I can’t believe comments such as those from IPF – Europe, including the UK, have spent billions trying to get Spain on its feet, new motorways, high speed rail, etc., etc.
    Did we get gratitude from Spain?? What a joke, the gratitude came from those ‘in power’ filling their pockets and Swiss bank accounts with OUR hard-earned money.
    Spain needs to grow up very quickly or it could be embroiled in another civil war as those with very little get to know where all the money has gone.
    IPF, Gibraltar is just a smokescreen for the crooks to hide in and you are gullible enough to fall for it! Francoism at work again.

  19. Just another titbit of information. The day before yesterday the local PP in La Linea came out saying that they were against the queues and against any measures to further aggravate the situation.
    Yesterday, the rep of the Andalucía PP Sr. Sanz held a press conference in which they supported the Central Government’s intended toll and any further actions they might want to take. All this at the same time as the La Linea Ayuntamiento with representatives from all concerned bodies, except the PP, who had earlier announced they would be there and had been invited, were holding meeting in which they produced a joint letter to Madrid condemning the Spanish measures because it affected their own people in the main and asking for dialogue to be restarted.

    In the simultaneous meeting which was held by the PP. Sr. Sanz affirmed that no 50 Euro charge would have to be paid by any Spanish worker coming into Gibraltar or leaving Gibraltar after their work.

    So how does that sit with the rest of the world apart from the fact that the PP seem to be acting in an ad hoc manner?

    They can come in, free of charge, earn a wage in Gib when their country cant offer them any, spend it all in Spain and the rest of the world is supposed to pay 100 Euros if they want to come in to visit Gib. How’s that for economic strangulation apart from a face as hard as the concrete reef blocks they want to have removed from British Territorial waters?

  20. Now this is an article by a journalist in the daily Mirror after my own heart!! Made my day! Enjoy!

    “http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gibraltar-rock-spanish-pie-chips-2127068”

  21. I was just going to send that link also.

    The obvious answer is for Gibraltar to charge any Spanish passport holders €50 to come INTO Gibraltar

  22. The Spanish need to look closer to home with all their own corruption, instead of going for what they think is easy pickings to help them get money in. I am british but working in Spain which I love but come on Spain WAKE UP & SMELL THE COFFEE:

  23. I have lived in Spain for nearly seven years. My main experience of Spanish politics was of the PSOE under Zapertero. From an economic point of view he perhaps wasn’t very good but he seemed to be able to talk to people and in my personal opinion represented Spain well outside of it’s borders. I do not like Rajoy and haven’t since day one and the more I hear of the PP the less I like them. I think Rajoy is taking Spain down a very dangerous road. The election in 2015 will show which direction Spain as a whole wants to take. I sincerely hope it wishes to be a modern western democracy at peace with itself and it’s neighbours and not spiralling out of control into another bloody civil war which will cast it back into the dark ages.

    Spain has much more to lose in this fight over Gibraltar than the UK or the people of Gibraltar.

  24. @ Paul, That would be just as illegal. You cannot charge anybody for entering into another country, but other measures could be taken I suppose, if pressed hard enough.
    Spain has been summoned in the autumn to go to Brussels to give an explanation for the horrendous queues at the border. I would not be at all surprised if we saw some unusual activity from now till then to further justify the unjustifiable, if the Panorama.gi article is anything to go by on.

  25. You are right if course about the illegality I know that . It was slightly tongue in cheek. I also heard about the Brussels meeting (? A second Spanish inquisition?) so we wait to see. I have to say that Gibraltar’s attitude in all this sabre rattling has been exemplary

  26. I suspect the Spanish Government have shot themselves in the foot as many of those caught up in the queues were Europeans not just British or Spanish nationals. Obviously many have complained and now the EU have decided to bring in observers. Spain does not seem to realise they are not very popular with the successful northern countries as they have had to contribute greatly towards funding its gross mismanagement.
    Somehow I think the Gibraltar issue is not about diverting attention but Rajoy trying to exert pressure on the UK government to help them out in some sort of way.

  27. Well isn’t that the norm where Gibraltar is concerned? They put their foot in the door, and then expect to be given something for removing it?
    Appeasement! I hope UK does not fall for that one again. It has in the past with the Spanish pensions in the Cordoba Agreement, and where is their gratitude? Where is their commitment, if they threaten at the turn of a hat to take back everything that was agreed then? Great Britain and Gibraltar have always kept their word and have never broken any agreements.
    How can you trust a Government that reneges on everything it signs? Appeasement has never gotten us very far with Spain, about time UK puts its foot down.
    It would be much like the money the EU poured down the banks. What good has that done if the sack has a hole in it? Rather throw away that particular sack and let them replace it with a new one made of stronger material. Don’t try and darn the hole, it will only open up again.

  28. With Spain having been called to Brussels, and a commission of EU delegates having signalled that they would be coming to see for themselves, THE QUEUES HAVE DISAPPEARED coming in and going out.

    Strange isn’t it?

    I will leave it at that! Let everyone arrive at their own conclusions.

  29. Government corruption at the highest level, Banks repeatedly propped up by the EU but still teetering on the brink of melt-down, unemployment soaring, civil disobedience becoming widespread, a toxic property market with tens of thousands of unsold homes, two regions pressing hard for independence…. I know, let’s find a convenient scapegoat, indulge in some desperate,frantic Nationalist flag-waving and hope that our voters will be distracted from the fact that we’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Sorry, but I believe that the Spanish voters are much too smart for that, and will prove it in the elections in 2015… or sooner…

  30. I have lived in Spain for over 10 years and have had no problems with the locals until the last couple of years, now with the help of the Spanish gov: There is definately an anti-British atmosphere, lots of animosity directed at ex-pats.
    British expats are blamed for the delays for treatment in the health service, It is the British who caused the house market to crash, hence causing the highest rate of unemployment, etc etc. Gibraltar must stand up to the Spanish gov: provocation
    do not negociate as the Spanish see this as a sign of weakness! Lets not forget Spain’s enclaves in North Africa are classed as part of Andalucia, how? The Canary Islands were conquered and not returned to the locals! etc. I hope all the comments made in this paper are forwrded onto the British Govermnet.

  31. David Bull: All very true. Except for the Canaries. There’s no one to claim them back. All the Guanches were wiped out.Very efficient bit of cleansing there…

  32. Spain wont give up Melilla or Ceuta. How can they expect us to give up Gibralter.

    The world is very unstable and Gibralter is a very strategic point of med in the event of any wars breaking out along its coast.

    Like england spain is bringing all this up to take heat off its own mess in government.

    It happens with all countries and governments,

    They are supposed to be there for the people but are only there for their own ends.

    I have no problem with the spanish in my village and no probs with health care, I dont use it unless absolutely necessary.

    My friend was in Madrid and fell off step of plane and cut leg really badly. She was taken to hospital and treated they found hotel for her and got taxi to take her there.
    The hotel couldnt do enough for her.

    I dont like bad comments about the Spanish,
    If you cant be nice be as nice as you can.

  33. In an ideal world, Spain as a member of the EU would be similarly democratic to France, Germany, the UK, etc., with the same level of respect for people and freedom. In that ideal world the people of Gibraltar would surely have little difficulty in allowing a transition to Spanish rule, with the naval base a shared Spain/UK facility, business ‘as usual’ and no borders.
    But Spain ain’t like that, corruption rules the roost from top to bottom and any transition to Spanish rule would see Gibraltar sink to its knees as its wealth is misappropriated, much of it into the private bank accounts of crooks.
    But playing to the tune composed by the right-wing Spanish ‘government’, sending ‘threatening’ UK navy ships to Gibraltar is surely just what Rajoy wants, a big show from which he can draw major support not just from the people of Spain but worldwide.
    I think the UK has fallen into a trap and Rajoy is laughing his socks off.

  34. @antonio2

    Britain is not sending warships to Gibraltar as some show of strength in the current dispute. Gibraltar is a British naval base, these operations I can assure you are planned months in advance. The British armed forces are much smaller than they were 20,10 or even 5 years ago deployment for operational, exercise and goodwill visits have to be carefully planned. The days of despatching a destroyer or frigate from the battle group in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Malta or wherever the UK had a naval base are long over. In this day and age if you really want to seriously put the wind up an adversaries bottom you just tell them to get their radar operators to check how many missiles are locked onto their installations. Don’t get me wrong I am in no way advocating that we go that far merely illustrating that sending a frigate and a couple of fleet auxiliaries for a 3 day stop over is some show of strength to pee the Spanish government off. Rajoy is laughing his socks off because the EU is not taking strong action over this dispute and all the other actions his government are taking to breach EU rules.

  35. Peter.
    You may be right but I’m sure that Rajoy is not party to British naval planning and the effect, although maybe coincidental, is just the same.
    To avoid the conclusion that the RN is waving a big stick, a delay in those plans would have been very politic in the circumstances, if possible.

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