The Partido Popular is whipping up a storm over the British Government’s decision to appeal the European Court’s decision to reject its original appeal against the EU’s decision to cede control in environmental matters to Spain over its waters.
Of course London isn’t totally innocent in this mess. Spain laid a claim to the waters before the EU. The British Government got its map co-ordinates wrong so asked to protect waters by all accounts off Algeria which isn’t even in the EU. As Britain made no claim over the Rock’s waters they were given to Spain.
This is God’s gift to Spain which doesn’t recognise Britain’s jurisdiction over the waters anyway although under international law Gibraltar has a three mile limit which could be extended to 12.
Sir Graham Watson, Gibraltar’s Lib Dem Euro MP, told PANORAMA: “The ECJ’s decision to reject the initial claim was down to a technicality. I’m pleased to see that the Foreign Secretary has announced the UK will be appealing the Court’s decision.
“Spain continues to be adventurous with regards to its actions relating to the Rock, and this is no exception. Ultimately this case would not have occurred in the first place if Labour ministers had not been asleep on their watch.”
José Ignacio Landaluce is the PP MP for Cádiz province who has always been a stern critic of Gibraltar but now as mayor of Algeciras has a key interest in what goes on in the waters of the bay. He has called on the Spanish Government to act with “major firmness” and to maintain and protect Spain’s own waters.
Landaluce has also weighed in on Caruana’s plan to create a coastguard agency which could have patrol boats and helicopters to protect the Rock’s waters. The PP, the party that the chief minister assures us he can do business with, says this is tantamount to Gibraltar creating borders. Landaluce talks of the “pretensions” of the chief minister in “creating a service of coastguards charged with defending and guarding the waters the colony defines as its own. Of course the Spanish mantra is not only does the Rock have no waters its only land mass is that agreed in the Treaty of Utrecht.
The mayor’s office in Algeciras sent PANORAMA a statement in which the MP declares: “A situation is continuing which could lead to another turn of the screw to the already insulting relations between Gibraltar and Spain, which could also lead to yet further clashes between the authorities of the colony and the Guardia Civil in these waters.”
The MP and Algeciras mayor is planning to ask a series of questions in Spain’s lower house of parliament, Congress, on the Spanish Government’s position with respect to the waters and coastguard issue.
The other issue here is does London approve of Gibraltar’s plan to have a coastguard agency? At present the protection of the waters around the Rock lies primarily with the Royal Navy. The waters are British Admiralty and hence it is an issue for London not No.6. The Foreign Office has made it clear it believes the present navy contingent is sufficient for the task and has resisted calls from Caruana to engage in gun boat diplomacy. The last thing London and Madrid wants is a shooting match between armed British and Spanish Naval vessels in the bay. However if Caruana is adamant in having his own air force and navy will that put him at odds with London?
Of course it could all be pre-election talk. The chief minister has spoken in the past about providing the Royal Gibraltar Police with larger patrol boats which have never materialised in the waters around the Rock but could have, of course, amongst the suds and rubber ducks of his bath! Let us not go there!