26th September 2013

Gibraltar's Conservative MEPs have called on the European Commission to make an early and "crystal clear" public statement on the findings of a fact-finding mission sent to the Spanish border.


A team of EU officials arrived yesterday at the border with Gibraltar to conduct a "technical" assessment following complaints about deliberate obstruction by Spanish border guards to delay people crossing in and out of the British territory.


The Commission have not said how long the mission will last, but today (Thursday) MEPs Giles Chichester, Ashley Fox and Julie Girling requested a prompt statement on the initial discoveries to be made during next month's European Parliament session in Strasbourg, beginning on Monday October 7.


In a joint statement the three Conservatives, whose constituency has the full title of South West and Gibraltar, said: "This issue is vitally important to the people of Gibraltar and extremely serious issues are at stake about freedom of movement and trade.


"That is why we are calling on Cecilia Malmstrom, the Commissioner responsible for border controls, to give us a full update on the mission when she next appears before parliament. We need a picture of exactly what is happening at the border - both timely and crystal clear. We will not let the issue be kicked into the long grass."


"The mission was despatched following a request from Prime Minister David Cameron to Commission President Barroso. Now we are asking for early information about what it has discovered. And we invite MEPs from other British parties to support our demand.


"We accept that Spain has a right to conduct checks at its borders, but the EU's own treaties demand that they must be proportionate and reasonable.


"Making people wait for hours, or threatening them with a levy to cross the border, is clearly a blatant breach of the law. It not only abuses citizens' rights, but it is bad for business, the economy and tourism on both sides of the border.


"If the presence of the EU inspection team means Spain is suddenly toeing the line, then we would suggest it might need to stay there indefinitely to ensure compliance.


"If Spain carries on regardless, with a policy of intimidation and obstruction against the people of Gibraltar and Spanish workers, than we shall press the Commission to take immediate and forceful action against Madrid."

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