Spain accused of banning exports to Gibraltar as William Hague meets government of British territory to discuss border row
British Overseas Territory says its neighbour was 'denying export permission' for rock and sand destined for building projects
The government of Gibraltar has accused Spain of introducing a ban on construction materials entering the British Overseas Territory.
Gibraltar said Spain was "denying export permission" for rock, sand and aggregate destined for building projects, and said it was considering legal action. It also threatened an official complaint to the European Commission if the "illegal and anti-European" restrictions were not lifted.
The news came as Foreign Secretary William Hague met Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo in London to discuss the continuing border row with Spain.
The two met to start a series of discussions including "the unacceptable delays at the Spanish/Gibraltar border", the Foreign Office said.
In a statement, the Gibraltar government said: "HM Government of Gibraltar notes that the Spanish authorities are now denying export permission for the supply of rock, sand and aggregate destined for projects in Gibraltar.
"The Government of Gibraltar has already identified alternative sources of supplies and will shortly be finalising these alternative arrangements.
"As a result, there should be no delay to the envisaged works on any project as a result of these illegal and anti-European restrictions
"The chief minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo MP, will raise also this issue with the Foreign Secretary, in addition to the many other instances of illegal action being taken by the Spanish government at the frontier and at sea.
"Legal action and the necessary complaints to the EU Commission will follow if the restrictions in question are not removed."
The Foreign Office said today's meeting between Mr Hague and Mr Picardo was "reaffirming the strong bonds between the UK and Gibraltar and the UK's commitment to stand by the people of Gibraltar".
The export ban is the latest move in the row over an artificial reef sunk in Gibraltar waters which prompted Spain to introduce border checks on traffic, which have led to delays of several hours.
The row over the reef, which Spain claims disrupts waters frequented by its fishing boats, has continued to simmer in recent days.
Last Friday a group of divers from a Spanish Guardia Civil unit entered Gibraltarian waters and inspected the concrete reef. Pictures posted online showed them unfurling a Spanish flag at the seabed.
The move was criticised by the Gibraltar government, which said the "serious incursion will not assist" in de-escalating the present tensions.
A regional politician also sparked anger by reportedly posting online a cartoon showing Spanish troops in Gibraltar and the Spanish flag flying over the Rock.
Last week more than 40 commercial Spanish boats staged a protest over the reef before being removed from Gibraltarian waters by police and Royal Navy patrol boats.
European Commission observers are to visit the border crossing to assess the legality of the checks on traffic after Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy agreed to allow them access following talks with Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
Three Royal Navy ships, led by frigate HMS Westminster, visited Gibraltar for a routine stopover last week en route to naval exercises in the Mediterranean.
Additional reporting PA
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 MH370 search: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
Israel accused of killing 75 children during day of 'carnage' and war crimes in Gaza war
MH370 search: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
Madeleine McCann 'not the identity' of fair-haired girl found dead in suitcase in Australia
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...
£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...