8th August 2013
I have today called on the European Commission to despatch a team of officials immediately to the Gibraltar border crossing to begin a detailed assessment of Spain's interference. The Commission has already agreed to the principle of sending a team of investigators to the Rock, but has intimated that this might not take place until late September, or even October.
The Commission has a duty to ensure that Spain abides by its obligations under the EU's treaties - that is its role. Specifically it must protect the free movement of people. Waiting a possible eight weeks before putting their team in place is unacceptable. We need the EU to act quickly and put a stop to this latest heavy handed Spanish approach to border control.
I acknowledge Spain's right to protect and police its own borders. However, the searches and other delays now happening at the Gibraltar crossing are nothing to do with crime or immigration and everything to do with causing inconvenience to Gibraltarians.
They have no legitimate purpose, only to cause mischief. The Spanish Foreign Minister's inflammatory remarks at the weekend are sufficient evidence of that. The Commission must act now to ensure that the treaties do not continue to be flouted. I am calling on Commission President, Jose Barroso, to dispatch his team of investigators now rather than waiting until the Autumn to take action.
I have also spoken directly to UK Foreign Minister of State, Hugo Swire MP, to express my concern about what the people of Gibraltar have been enduring. He has assured me that whilst the British Government regards the Spanish actions as unfriendly, un-European and wholly unacceptable, it is doing everything it can through diplomatic channels to ease tensions and stop the dangerous rhetoric coming out of Madrid.