David Cameron asks EU president Jose Manuel Barroso to urgently send monitors to Gibraltar border

Prime Minister says Spain's border checks are 'politically motivated and disproportionate

Whitehall Editor

David Cameron has accused Spain of imposing “politically motivated and disproportionate” border checks on people entering and leaving Gibraltar – as he called for the EU to intervene in the dispute.

In a significant escalation in the diplomatic row between Britain and Spain, Mr Cameron telephoned the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, to raise “serious concerns” over the checks, which he claimed broke EU rules on freedom of movement.

The Prime Minister said the United Kingdom was now considering legal action against Spain, and revealed that the Government was “collating evidence” of the “sporadic nature” of the Spanish checks to “prove that they are illegitimate”.

Last week Mr Cameron had appeared keen to defuse the row following a telephone call with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy. But with long border queues continuing and Spain claiming that Gibraltar has not controlled smuggling Downing Street said that Mr Cameron had decided to officially call for EU intervention.

The row started after Spain accused Gibraltar of deliberately attempting to disrupt Spanish fishing boats by installing an artificial reef off its  coast, which can ruin fishing nets.

Downing Street said that Mr Cameron had asked President Barroso to ensure that the EU assessed whether the Spanish checks were legitimate.

“We believe that the European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, should investigate the issue,” said a spokeswoman.

“The Prime Minister called on President Barroso to send an EU monitoring team to the Gibraltar-Spain border urgently to gather evidence of the checks that are being carried out.

[He] emphasised that the Commission has a responsibility to do this as part of its role overseeing the application of Union law.

“President Barroso responded that the European Commission is closely monitoring the situation and that, following a thorough legal assessment, it would not hesitate to take any measures necessary to uphold EU law.”

The spokeswoman added that the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg would be telephoning the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, to reiterate British concerns and to press for a way forward to “de-escalate the issue.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before