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EU executive rejects Gibraltar complaint

Britain's claim in July that Spain subjected Gibraltar to unlawful border and customs checks in breach of EU law has been dismissed by the EU's executive. The European Commission says its probe found no evidence.

The EU executive said Friday its probe into British claims that Spain imposed stringent border checks in July had drawn a blank. The row began with Britain placing concrete blocks to protect fisheries.

The findings are based on a visit to the area by technical officials in September and information provided by both countries.

Britain had complained in Brussels that Spain was applying over-zealous border controls, causing long lines for workers and tourists entering the rocky outcrop near the tip of southern Spain.

Recommendations from Brussels

On Friday the commission instead wrote to the Spanish and British governments, recommending ways to improve the flow of people, traffic and goods.

Spain complains that the concrete blocks endanger the livelihoods of Spanish fishermen and accuses Gibraltar of not doing enough to stem cigarette smuggling.

On "the Rock" cigarettes are about 40 percent cheaper than in Spain.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 but has long argued that it should be returned. Gibraltarians are staunchly pro-British.

ipj/hc (Reuters, AFP)