Gibraltar toes line after UK warning

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The Independent Online
Gibraltar yesterday caved in to growing pressure from Britain over its failure to implement anti money laundering and corruption directives from the European Union.

The Chief Minister, Joe Bossano, announced in Gibraltar that the directive would go into effect to head off a crisis with Britain. The Foreign Office said it had no confirmation of the plans but found the report "encouraging".

The Independent reported on Wednesday that London had given Gibraltar until the end of next month to implement the directives or face sanctions that could lead to it being ruled directly. High-level talks take place on Monday between the Spanish Foreign Minister, Javier Solana, and British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, on the future of Gibraltar.

The controversy over the money-laundering and other EU directives has overshadowed those negotiations. Mr Bossano rejected Spanish charges that Gibraltar is a base for drug-trafficking into Spain. He said the drugs are coming from Morocco and not the enclave. Drug smuggling is believed to be carried out from 200 speed boats which are moored at Gibraltar by day.

"The Spanish have always used this excuse while the real reason is that they are not satisfied with the progress of their claim on the Rock," he said.

Madrid has never given up its claim to Gibraltar, situated on its southern coast. But this week's tension between London and the Gibraltar government has boosted the Spanish position in advance of next week's meeting. The new round of talks on the sovereignty of the Rock begun in 1984, claimed by Madrid but British under the 1713 Treaty.of Utrecht.