A world legal expert on the law of the sea is to be engaged by the Gibraltar Government to probe the concept of ‘innocent passage’ as a concept of international law. The concept is regularly cited in relation to Spanish warships and Guardia Civil vessels when they pass through British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, usually when they do not engage in any other activity.
The Sunday Telegraph reported a record number of Spanish incursions into Gibraltar waters last year, but its calculations in fact fell short of the final total, reports the Gibraltar Chronicle.
Spain has made a record number of illegal incursions into Gibraltar waters in the past year, new figures show. The Sunday Telegraph said the figures capped a 12 month period in which relations between the Rock and Madrid “reached their lowest ebb since the rule of General Francisco Franco.”
Spain’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Miguel Arias Cañete, said Spain would take the UK to the European Court of Justice if the European Commission failed to take action over reclamation works in Gibraltar waters.
British Labor MP Jim Dobbin has filed an early day motion calling on the House of Commons to condemn the actions of the Spanish Guardia Civil crew that led to “an armed stand-off” with Royal Navy vessels in Gibraltar waters last week.
Gibraltar opposition Leader Daniel Feetham has urged a cooling down of the language in the row with Spain and confirmed that the GSD Opposition would agree to quadripartite talks with Spain so long as the Gibraltar delegation retained its own separate voice, vote and veto.
An editorial entitled ‘Spain should respect Gibraltarians’ wish to be ruled from Britain’ The Times on Tuesday sent one of its firmest views expressed in recent decades calling on Spain to form their policies around the concept of consent.
The British Government has no plans “at present” to extend British territorial waters around the Rock but does not rule out doing so in the future. The position was revealed in a statement by David Lidington, Britain’s Minister for Europe, in response to a question in the House of Commons.
UK Minister for Europe David Lidington has warned that an escalation of tension with Spain in the waters row could damage Gibraltar’s prosperity and wider UK interests and pointed out that the incursions were not “an armed attack or invasion” and that the response to them must be proportionate.
Guardia Civil vessels escorted Spanish fishing boats into Gibraltar territorial waters on 47 occasions during the first eight months of the year, according to the British Government. The information was revealed in a response to questions in the House of Lords, in which Britain also reaffirmed its position on sovereignty.