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
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 0447 GMT (1247 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2042 GMT (0442 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0621 GMT (1421 HKT)
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT