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Spain Threatens Further Queues at Gibraltar Border

Source: Mercopress - Wed 13th Nov 2013
Spain Threatens Further Queues at Gibraltar Border

Carmen Crespo, the Spanish Government's representative in Andalucía, said the checks were in line with EU law and aimed to combat cigarette smuggling and fiscal fraud.

The queues "are two hours for cars and 30 minutes for pedestrians", she said during a visit to the Spanish border installations. According to Mrs. Crespo, the checks were "proportionate, flexible, random and non-discriminatory."

The Andalucía representative added that the Spanish Government was showing "special sensitivity to Spanish workers" and lamented that the public perception was the opposite. She claimed Gibraltar exported 120 Mln packets of cigarettes a year and that this cost the Spanish purse €500 Mln.

"This has a lot to do with the Spanish economy," she said.

Mrs. Crespo said the checks had led to double the number of arrests in August compared to the previous year, although she did not reveal the number of arrests. However, in response to a question tabled recently in the Spanish parliament by Basque MP Jon Iñarritu García, the Spanish Government said there had been 43 arrests at the border during the months of July and August. The arrests were for offences ranging from smuggling to assault on a law enforcement officer.

Spanish cross-border workers association ASCTEG said Spain was using its citizens as "cannon fodder" in pursuit of its sovereignty goals. In a statement, the association said the frontier crossing between Gibraltar and Spain had become "a third world border".

Mrs. Crespo's visit to the border came against the background of heavy delays to exit Gibraltar. Queues for cars leaving Gibraltar hit four hours on Tuesday, according to the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Meanwhile Gibraltar Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, is to embark on a series of speeches to influential and academic audiences in Spain, as part of a campaign to explain the Government of Gibraltar's policy towards Spain. Mr Picardo is also granting interviews to a series of media, including television, radio and press.

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