Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Another fishing dispute

Gibraltar is in the news again. Spain, a country that is beset with problems at the moment, is sabre rattling over Gibraltar.

On Sunday, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo warned that "the midday break" for the U.K. was over, a reference to what he called ineffective policies in defense of Spanish interests by the country's previous government, which left office in December 2011.

Mr. García-Margallo made the remarks in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, adding that Spain was considering restricting flights into the Gibraltar airport and imposing a special fee of €50 ($66) for any border crossing.

These comments come at a delicate moment for Spain's government, facing recession and corruption allegations that have led to a collapse in the popularity of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy . Mr. Rajoy last week dismissed the allegations as "a surprising and imaginative collection of lies." Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's chief minister, said Monday that Spain's political situation is a likely reason why Madrid is now raising the tone of the dispute.

The immediate cause of the latest crisis was an alleged infringement on the rights of Spanish fishermen.

The latest tensions between Spain and the British territory began 10 days ago after Gibraltar boats began dumping blocks of concrete into the sea near the territory. Gibraltar said it was creating an artificial reef that would foster fish populations.

Spain said the reef would block its fishing boats and ramped up border checks, creating long lines at the border between Spain and the territory.

Picardo called for proportionate customs and immigration controls at the frontier, saying they had been excessive in recent days.

Excuse us, but was this not the sort of outdated national dispute that the European Union was going to make history?


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