On welcoming Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, UK minister for Europe David Lidington reaffirmed the strong bonds with Gibraltar and London's commitment to stand by the people of the Rock, while calling on Spain to implement EU recommendations to reduce border delays.
Chief Minister Picardo is currently visiting the UK and on Thursday met with Minister Lidington, among other issues to discuss the unacceptable delays at the Spanish/Gibraltar border.
On 15 November 2013, the European Commission wrote to the UK and Spain with recommendations aimed at easing the delays at the Gibraltar-Spain border which Madrid has been implementing in apparent retaliation for the Rock having enforced sovereignty and limiting Spanish fishermen from catching in Gibraltar waters.
The Commission asked for an update within six months from the authorities in Gibraltar and Spain on how the recommendations were being implemented.
“It is now six months since the European Commission sent recommendations aimed at easing the delays at the border between Gibraltar and Spain. Despite that, politically motivated and disproportionate checks imposed by Spain continue to create severe difficulties for the people of Gibraltar – and for people on the Spanish side of the border” said Lidington.
“Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has taken significant steps, in a very short period, to address the Commission’s recommendations, including: increasing powers of authorities to tackle smugglers; upgrades to the border infrastructure to make smuggling more difficult; reducing the number of cigarettes that an individual can buy and raising duty on tobacco.
“I am deeply concerned by the delay by the authorities in Spain in responding to the Commission’s recommendations. The Commission has already concluded that the intensity of the checks is unjustified. Spain needs to take simple, practical steps to improve the situation - and quickly.
“The government is clear that we will maintain diplomatic pressure on the Spanish government until checks at the border return to reasonable, proportionate levels. We will continue to protect the interests of Gibraltar, its people, its security and economy.”