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EU Makes Gibraltar Border Recommendations

by Ulrika Lomas, Lowtax.net, Brussels
19 November, 2013

The European Commission has confirmed that strict border checks currently being implemented by Spanish authorities at the Línea de la Concepción crossing point with Gibraltar do not infringe European Union law, although the body says it reserves the right to reconsider its position should the situation change.

Britain claims that the checks are politically-motivated retaliation for the building of an artificial reef in disputed waters, while Spain complains of increasing tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar into its territory.

The Commission organized a technical visit to the crossing point in September and has now sent recommendations to both countries, urging information exchange on tobacco smuggling and for both sides to make risk-analysis based border checks. Further, the UK should optimize legislation and safeguards to prevent smuggling, while Spain should optimize the space it has available on its side of the border to ease traffic flows. The EC adds that maintaining traffic flows and preventing smuggling are best achieved by authorities on both sides working together on a daily basis.

The Commission has also asked to receive information from both sides within six months on how these recommendations have been taken into consideration.

In September, Prime Minister David Cameron sent a message to Gibraltar to mark the Rock's National Day, in which he expressed the UK Government's hope that day-to-day matters would be dealt with through dialogue, rather than by "unacceptable border delays, or other actions or rhetoric."

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