Gibraltar has accused Spain of having chosen once again not to behave as European partners as a result of the latest pedestrian delays at the border. The Gibraltar Office in Brussels was asked to relay information to the European Commission on the latest delays caused by the introduction of an Automated Border Control system on the Spanish side.
Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia noted the arrival of the tourist season once again coincided with disruption and delays at the border generated by the Spanish authorities.
It is the manner in which Spain has chosen to implement its infrastructure changes that has caused the problem. This is a serious political problem but it also has a very real human dimension.”
There are, he added, thousands of people who live in Spain and who work in Gibraltar who are once again being caught up in these unacceptable delays.
Meanwhile the Government statement said it had received initial reports that the Policia Nacional started testing the new system on 16 July at around 12 noon.
“This created a queue of about 30 minutes for persons to enter Gibraltar on foot. Given the problem, at around 2pm on that day the Spanish authorities ended the tests. These problems arose again at the end of last week when the Policia Nacional started testing the system again. The problem is that they chose to do so at peak time for persons exiting Gibraltar creating delays of up to an hour in the process. This caused considerable disruption to many people, including the elderly and children, who were stuck in a queue to enter Spain in over 30 degrees of heat.”
Gibraltar insists the scenes that were witnessed at the border were shocking and unacceptable.
“The tests continued over the weekend and caught up people who were going to the fair in La Linea on their way out of Gibraltar, and again in the early hours when they returned home from the fair. On Tuesday morning a 30 minute delay started at 7.40am which affected workers and others coming into Gibraltar.
Over the last few days those affected by the latest disruption at the border have also included tourists.
The irony is that the majority of those affected are Spanish citizens and that it is their own Government that is inflicting this hardship upon them. In normal circumstances, is only to be expected that such a major change, which affects thousands of people every day, would at the very least have been the subject of a public information campaign on the part of Spain in order to create awareness among those persons who cross the border on a daily basis. This has not happened which means that the element of surprise has served to compound an already serious situation.