Friday, November 30th 2012 - 19:24 UTC

EU Court of Justice confirms Spain has a listed nature site in Gibraltar waters

British Government has lost a crucial appeal before the European Court of Justice [ECJ] relating to Gibraltar’s territorial waters. Britain was seeking to overturn an earlier judgement dismissing its legal challenge to the European Commission’s approval of a Spanish EU nature site in British waters.

UK ‘disappointed’ bur ruling did not touch on the substance of British sovereignty over Gibraltar waters

According to a report from the Gibraltar Chronicle, the latest court decision follows the Gibraltar Government’s defeat before the ECJ last August in a separate case on the same issue.

By ruling on two separate occasions against the UK and Gibraltar, the ECJ has in effect ensured that Spain continues to have a listed nature site in Gibraltar waters. Britain and Gibraltar are now liaising closely on their response to the latest developments.

“We will give urgent consideration as to our next steps,” said a spokesperson for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

“We are clear that this ruling has no impact on our position on sovereignty of Gibraltar, which we have expressed consistently and publicly.”

“We continue to explore all further legal and political options in consultation with HM Government of Gibraltar.”

The British Government said it was “disappointed” by the latest ruling but added that it was made on technical grounds that did not touch on the substance of the British position, which is that Spain has no jurisdiction in Gibraltar waters.

The Gibraltar Government issued a brief statement saying it was not surprised by the decision to dismiss the UK’s case on technical grounds “given the composition of the Court dealing with this matter”.

No 6 said that the ruling had ignored the substance of the matter in the decision on the UK case as much as it did in the Gibraltar application.

“The decision changes nothing of substance either. The waters around Gibraltar are exclusively British Gibraltar Territorial Waters under British Sovereignty. The Government is liaising closely with the United Kingdom on this matter and considering appropriate action.”

Much of the legal argument hinged on whether the European Commission should have known that the Spanish site overlapped with an existing British one, and what steps it should have taken to consult Britain before approving it.

The British Government said that, irrespective of the ruling, it did not recognise Spain’s listed site in Gibraltar waters.

“We remain deeply concerned that Spain should have sought to list an area of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters as a Site of Community Importance under the EU Habitats Directive, and that the European Commission should have accepted such a proposal,” the FCO spokesman said.

“The UK is the only Member State competent to propose an SCI listing in respect of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and had already done so before the Spanish submitted their Estrecho Oriental listing.”

“In contrast to the open and consultative approach taken by the UK when submitting our listing in respect of the Southern Waters of Gibraltar, Spain submitted its listing without undertaking any prior consultation with the UK or HM Government of Gibraltar.”

Gibraltar’s three Tory MEPs reacted with dismay to the Thursday court decision condemning the ruling as “a blow to common sense”.

In a joint statement, Giles Chichester, Ashley Fox and Julie Girling said: “Spain is once again here insidiously trying to extend its influence into areas where that influence does not belong.”

“It craftily set up this area under Spanish protection in the hope nobody would notice it had swallowed up a significant stretch of Gibraltar’s waters. It is a blatant move to grab control of part of our seas.

“To add to the offence, much of the area in question was already under the environmental protection of an SCI granted to the UK some time ago and called The Southern Waters of Gibraltar. “Sadly, the force of the UK and Gibraltar’s argument has been not recognised and this is a blow for common sense.”

26 comments Feed

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1 briton (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 07:41 pm Report abuse
How [not] surprised are we,

Still this is what may happen when one is considered to weak to act,

Perhaps when we finally withdraw from the EU, we might be in a position to tell the EU and Spain where to go.?
2 Anbar (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 07:49 pm Report abuse
whats the fuss about anyway? it doesnt affect sovereignty in any way.... so I dont see the big deal?
3 slattzzz (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 08:11 pm Report abuse
a listed nature site well fook me, that will seal it, don't worry about what the people want there's a nature site there, bit like TMBOA and her prevailing winds and fauna, what a crock of shit!!!!!
4 Pirate Love (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 10:38 pm Report abuse
Gibraltar should make a nature site in spains waters, simplez... EU cant be seen to have double standards.

was going to barcelona next year with my family, not no more, the idea of handing my money to spain is quite sickening.
unless of course catalonia breaks away from spain.
5 Anbar (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 11:47 pm Report abuse
go to Greece instead
6 Pirate Love (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 02:43 am Report abuse
@5 good idea, the family would love it, itll be a riot. :)
7 DanyBerger (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 10:04 am Report abuse
Another setback for UK foreign Office policy but they are not going to fail again especially with Argentina...

Foreign Office working as usual...
8 thorpeman (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 11:49 am Report abuse
We need more battleships cruising the waters of Gibraltar not Spanish “fishing” vessels
9 Conqueror (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 12:36 pm Report abuse
Leaving aside the fact that we don't have any battleships, what good would any ship do? In such restricted waters, a ship would take too long to get anywhere. Apache gunships are what are needed. A full squadron!
10 GeoffWard2 (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 05:21 pm Report abuse
It is worth noting that the Commission Decisions do NOT list British Gibraltar territorial waters (BGTW) as being under the control of Spain. Rather, Spain has proposed an area, which includes BGTW, to the Commission as a 'Site of Community Importance' (SCI) and the Decisions list this site as an SCI.
[Why, when the UK listed its SCI Southern Waters of Gibraltar in 2006, did the Commission insist on consultation in advance with Spain, but did not insist on this when Spain made its overlapping listing in 2008/12?]

'Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) are sites that have been adopted by the European Commission but not formally designated by the government of each country.'
The UK and Gibraltar may chose to recognise their own designated Reserve in the area, but may chose to not recognise the Spanish-proposed SCI that covers much the same area.
11 reality check (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 08:45 pm Report abuse
Spain should declare all of Gibs waters a nature site, that way Gib could stop the bastards fishing there, legally and it would not effect Gib, because they would not recognise it!!!!
12 aussie sunshine (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 11:29 pm Report abuse
pirate love...stay home!! and save those shillings for a rainy day.......
13 British_Kirchnerist (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 02:22 am Report abuse
Seems Spain's dastardly plot to protect the local environment is working =) Btw how does Gibralter get THREE MEPs, unless the article means the MEPs belonging to a wider area including Gibralter? Which would be weird if its a territorially distinct BOT...
14 reality check (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 08:57 am Report abuse
Yep and to deprive itself of much needed tourism revenue!
15 Ann Other (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 11:13 am Report abuse
Gibraltar (spelt correctly) gets three Conservative MEP's because we are worth it. On the other hand Spain got a Spanish judge to decide on whether the case was admissible and she decided it was not. What a surprise !
16 GeoffWard2 (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 11:16 am Report abuse
The Gib. authorities are eagle-eye placed to record and report to the EU every fishing transgression in the Eastern Strait zone protected for conservation.
Only if the fishing boats painted out their IMO code or attempted night fishing would there be a slight problem. Even at night, sonar fingerprints are constantly recorded for this extremely important choke-point (I imagine only the Straits of Hormuz are better electronically observed!).
17 Shed-time (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 12:14 pm Report abuse
I seriously don't understand why you people expect logic from Spanish speakers. Historically they've never been logical and now they're just a morally and economically vacuous backwater trying to steal other people's possessions.

I guess in tough times, one typically resorts to form (argentina becomes larcenous, spain becomes larcenous, bolivia becomes larcenous, venezuela becomes larcenous...repeat ad nauseum).
18 Conqueror (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 05:08 pm Report abuse
@10 It is also worth noting, from the same Chronicle report that “The Spanish marine and fisheries research vessel Emma Bardan entered British waters yesterday afternoon to carry out survey work for Spain’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

The Governor, Sir Adrian Johns, said the vessel had violated British sovereignty and was ordered out by the Gibraltar Squadron.”

So, listen up, Spain. Sooner or later you are going to force the Royal Navy to open fire.

Moreover, this is yet another reason for the UK to leave the EU. Appeal and get a Spanish judge? What sort of justice is that? Well, it's EU justice. The sort that views all the waters around Europe as “EU waters”. The sort that permits Spanish fishing boats to over-fish British fishing grounds. Let's do the obvious thing. Re-arm!
19 Shed-time (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 07:35 pm Report abuse
@18 Logic suggests that given all spaniards and spanish speakers are pathological opportunists that have no moral code, we can assume that spanish judges are also devoid of any kind of ethical structure whatsoever.

For this reason alone I'm guessing you could tell the EU court to go swivel if they served up any member of the spanish judiciary to hear out something about Gibraltar.
20 DanyBerger (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 03:46 am Report abuse
“Law should govern” Aristoteles...

Before the Brit copy past that turned into...

“The rule of law” only if favour us of course...
21 reality check (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 10:45 am Report abuse
Same as the Assange fiasco, A Spanish lawyer, ex judge, standing in a British street outside a South American Embassy, telling the British people how to administer their own Criminal Judicial System. Farcical, WTF, this was not why my grand parents and parents voted on the question of whether we should enter the then EEC, which correct me if I am wrong, was suppose to be a European Trade Union! It's gone too far, far too far and it is now time say so, loud and clear!
22 aussie sunshine (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 01:21 pm Report abuse
THIS IS DEMOCRACY.....If the EU has given Spain the right to control the waters..end of story..stop whinging so sound like spoilt children...The UK has lost and that is it..accept democracy in action.....
23 reality check (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 01:27 pm Report abuse
“Control of waters!” You need to read the article again. It's abut the establishement of a nature site, nothing to do with control of territorial waters.
24 aussie sunshine (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 01:31 pm Report abuse
well the same thing...what´s the fuzz all about!!! you all sound like a bunch of anarchists!!!
25 Rufus (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 04:33 pm Report abuse
@13 BK

As of the 1999 ECHR case, it was decided that Gibraltar should be entitled to vote in EC elections.
As they are British (by their choice) then they are included in the nearest British constituency (South West England).
Needless to say, this was protested by Spain in the european courts, and lost.
26 briton (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 07:11 pm Report abuse
THIS IS DEMOCRACY.....If the islanders has given Britain the right to control the waters..end of story..stop whinging so sound like spoilt children...The argentina has lost and that is it..Accept democracy in action.....

Boot other foot .com.

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