15th November 2013
The Conservative MEPs representing Gibraltar today responded to the publication by the EU Commission of a report from its inspectors sent to monitor problems at the border crossing with Spain.
The Commission sent the team of officials after huge tailbacks were created at the frontier checkpoint because of the actions of Spanish border police. Gibraltar authorities said there was clear evidence Spain was deliberately engineering the hold-ups to create aggravation for the Rock's citizens and for workers who cross the border to work there.
The report published today, however, says Spain has not broken EU law.
Specifically it declares that "on the basis of its observations during this technical visit and of the information provided by both authorities, the Commission has not found evidence to conclude that the checks on persons and goods as operated by the Spanish authorities at the crossing point of La Línea de la Concepción have infringed the relevant provisions of Union law.
"The management of this crossing point is nevertheless challenging, in view of the heavy traffic volumes in a relatively confined space and the increase in tobacco smuggling into Spain. The Commission believes that the authorities on both sides could take further measures to better address these challenges, and is addressing three recommendations to both Member States.
Giles Chichester, Ashley Fox and Julie Girling, Conservative MEPs for the South West and Gibraltar, issued a statement describing the findings as "deeply disappointing and questionable".
They said: "It seems likely that Spain has effectively behaved itself for the time the inspectors were there. This is not surprising...the law rarely gets broken when the police are around.
"Of course the conclusion is deeply disappointing and we do not believe that this questionable report reflects adequately what has happened there. In effect, this inspection has failed.
"We now insist that the Commission must continue monitoring what happens at this crossing, but in future we believe the inspectors should work discreetly and unannounced."