Skip to main content

UK stays committed to Gibraltar in latest row with Spain

By Ed Payne and Saskya Vandoorne, CNN
August 6, 2013 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: British PM wants to hear what Spain has to say about Gibraltar border fees
  • The Mediterranean colony has been a persistent irritant in UK relations with Spain
  • Spain says Gibraltar has damaged Spanish fishing grounds
  • The UK Foreign Office says it will seek an explanation from Spain

(CNN) -- The United Kingdom won't compromise over the sovereignty of Gibraltar in the latest row with Spain over the rocky outcropping on its southern tip.

"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," the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

Spain recently ramped up border checks, leaving drivers languishing in line for hours on end. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo also has suggested imposing a 50-euro fee on every vehicle entering and leaving Gibraltar.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron called the prospect of fees worrisome. "Clearly, we remain seriously concerned by the events at the Spain/Gibraltar border on this issue of border fees. The Spanish have not raised the prospect of introducing border fees with us. We are seeking an explanation from them regarding reports that they might target Gibraltar with further measures."

Garcia-Margallo said the money would go to help fishermen whose fishing grounds have allegedly been damaged by authorities in Gibraltar. The British territory has been working on an artificial reef.

"We will be seeking an explanation from Spain following reports that the Spanish government might target Gibraltar with further measures," the Foreign Office said.

The history

Britain's 300-year-long control of the Mediterranean colony has been a persistent irritant in its relations with Spain. Talks on its fate re-started in July 2001 after breaking off in 1987.

London and Madrid came close to a deal on joint sovereignty in 2002, but it collapsed after an unofficial referendum showing that 99% of Gibraltar's 30,000 residents opposed the change and feared they would be abandoned by Britain.

Britain gained possession of Gibraltar in 1704 and legal control of the strategic port with the Treaty of Utrecht nine years later. The treaty granted Spain the first right to reclaim Gibraltar if its status changed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
The Vice-Principal of Danwon High School was rescued from sinking ferry last week. Two days later he took his own life, wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0629 GMT (1429 HKT)
The world's most memorable accommodations don't always come with five stars. Sewer pipe hotel, anyone?
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0201 GMT (1001 HKT)
Love eating? Money? Appreciate efficient population density? HK might be the city for you.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1107 GMT (1907 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT