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Gibraltar Relations

By Simon Costa - Tue 30th Jul 2013

Relations between Spain and Gibraltar have always been fragile, regardless of the fact that Gibraltar employs, at a minimum, 7000 Spanish workers who cross the frontier on a daily basis.

There are many more Spaniards travelling into Gibraltar on a daily basis to purchase and conceal packets of cigarettes that are then sold throughout Spain.

For many, with the levels of unemployment in La Linea (the city bordering Gibraltar) amongst the highest levels on mainland Spain, this is their only source of income.

As you pass through the frontier, you drive or walk past countless bicycles, scooters and cars that have been confiscated by Spanish customs as packets of cigarettes are often hidden inside panels on scooters, inside dashboards of cars and even strapped and taped around the smugglers themselves.

The mayor of La Linea is keen on ensuring that relations between Gibraltar and La Linea are as healthy as possible, due to the fact that we are, at the end of the day, neighbouring communities.

Furthermore, Gibraltar is providing thousands of Spanish nationals with gainful employment and Gibraltarians often spend their weekends in Spain, which can only be beneficial for the economy of La Linea and beyond.

The annual feria in La Linea took place last week, and I cynically read on a social networking site, a Gibraltarian predicting that during the week there would be no lengthy border queues as Gibraltarians would be encouraged to spend their money at the fair, local restaurants etc.

I have to say, I noticed that the queues to enter Spain last week were pleasantly short and passing into Spain on my scooter too only a matter of minutes.

So, the feria has now moved on and the animosity has once again increased with the Guardia Civil having yesterday entered Gibraltar's national waters with the Gibraltar Chronicle today stating: "A major operation involving Gibraltar police and Royal Navy vessels yesterday prevented Spanish fishermen and the Guardia Civil from hampering work to lay an artificial reef in Gibraltar waters off the runway."

The police and naval vessels created a maritime cordon around the locally-based tug Eliott and the barge MHB Dole as dozens of purpose-built concrete blocks were dumped into the sea. But there was high tension on the sea, particularly in the morning when the Guardia Civil vessel Rio Tormes carried out a high-speed manoeuvre close to the tug.

The Spanish launch weaved through British vessels and swerved to create a large wake, despite attempts to cut it off.

A day later, and the rumours are that Madrid have instructed the Guardia Civil to check each and every car leaving Gibraltar, with the aim to create a queue that may take upto six hours. Whether these rumours are true or not will never be known but the fact of the matter is that as I write this, at 20:00 in the evening on Friday, 26th July, officials are reporting that it is taking up to 5 and a half hours to pass through the frontier.

Many of these people are Spanish nationals who have been working in Gibraltar all day and are now having to wait 5 hours in 30 degree heat to get home.

The coincidence is all too familiar now, that the day after there has been an incident in Gibraltar's waters, the border queue should become so lengthy.

The instigators seem oblivious to the fact that the people that suffer most in these instances are the Spanish themselves. Firstly, the workers and secondly the businesses in the Campo de Gibraltar, as in instances such as this, Gibraltarians refuse to travel to Spain.

Comment on this Blog

@davidson - there has not been any major improvement. From experience, the queues are now sporadic. You could always predict a queue to get into Gib in the morning and one to get into Spain in the evening. Recently on the bike I queued 45 mins to get into Gib at 16:00 and was asked to show how much cash I was "travelling" with (I believe the legal allowance is 10,000 euros? - as if I would have that amount of cash in my pockets!). There was a rumour that the Guardia Civil had been given a timetable of when to "create" a backlog of border traffic. I took this with a pinch of salt but a couple of weeks ago I left the house after checking the border camera feed on the internet to see no queues, arrived at the frontier 15 mins later to see 6 lanes of cars in the queue and it took just over an hour to cross! Hopefully the days of 6 hour queues are over (for now) but the amount of time it takes to cross the frontier is unpredictable.
Simon Costa - Tue, 21st Jan 2014
This report was dated in July 2013 when I was also caught in the Feria Jam and the Frontier mess. Has there been any improvement since then?
Davidson - Tue, 21st Jan 2014
@SimonCosta - Are things really as bad as they suggest in the press these days? The rhetoric from both Spain and Britain suggests it's all political now. I read with disgust the Spanish hardliners with little knowledge of the issues or their history abusing the 'La Linea' mayoress Gemma Araujo Morales for her desire to resolve things with Gib and work in unity... What is the feeling in Gib about this?
Ed Bishop - Wed, 4th Sep 2013
Excellent article, Simon.
David - Wed, 31st Jul 2013
Simon - they are taxed in Gibraltar as that is where they are employed. Mike - what about Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands? Are they relevant to what I have written?
Simon Costa - Wed, 31st Jul 2013
What is the Tax situation with regards to these Spaniards who work in Gibraltar but live in Spain ? are they taxed by Spain or the UK ?
Simon Parker - Tue, 30th Jul 2013
oh and wot about Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary islands... Spanish or Morocco ??
Mike - Tue, 30th Jul 2013

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