It cannot have escaped the notice of this blog's readers that the Spanish government is at it again. To be absolutely accurate, it is trying to deflect attention from various domestic problems such as "recession and corruption allegations that have led to a collapse in the popularity of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy" by beating the ward drums 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.The immediate "cause" of the dispute is the artificial reef being built by the Gibraltarians, which, they maintain, will attract fish and make fishing easier and which, the Spanish maintain, will make their fishermen's lives more difficult. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said that
Spain was mulling a €50 border-crossing fee and tax investigations of thousands of Gibraltarians who own property in Spain. A border fee would affect tourists and Gibraltarians who cross the border for work.Whether the people of Spain will be taken in by this carefully timed sabre rattling remains to be seen. For the moment,
Gibraltar has complained to the European Commission over what it says are unreasonable controls at the border, saying they violate European Union rules on free circulation.
Spain was also considering closing airspace to planes heading for the airport in Gibraltar and changing rules to wring taxes from on-line gaming companies based in Gibraltar, he said.
"The prime minister has made clear that the U.K. government will meet its constitutional commitments to the people of Gibraltar and will not compromise on sovereignty," the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement Sunday. "Our differences with Spain on Gibraltar will be resolved by political means through our relationship as EU partners, not through disproportionate measures such as the border delays we have seen over the past week."But, surely, this is not the sort of thing that should be happening in the EU, anyway.