A team of European Union inspectors is in Gibraltar to investigate a border dispute which has strained relations between the UK and Spain.
They are there to assess Britain’s complaint that Spain is deliberately applying overly zealous checks on border traffic in an escalation of a row which began over fishing rights.
In a statement on his arrival in New York to attend the United Nations, Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s Prime Minister, referred to other complaints Madrid has about the British territory:
“We can’t have a fiscal paradise in the middle of the European Union, nor can we have a place that breaches the most fundamental of environmental laws – however, the European Union and common sense will tell,” he said.
Spain disputes UK sovereignty over Gibraltar which was handed over to Britain three centuries ago. Arguments between the two over the decades have been numerous.
Spain has justified the current extra border checks by claiming Gibraltar is not doing enough to combat cigarette smuggling. The UK says the lengthy delays are causing frustration and harm to the territory’s economy.