Following increasing tensions between Spanish and Gibraltarian fisherman Europe has warned both country’s to work together to protect the Site of Specific Cultural Interest (SCI) which runs alongside the rock.
Environment commissioner Janez Potocnik says that both country’s have legal obligations to protect the area and they should work together on protecting it from damage and spend less time arguing about who’s water it is.
However, Gibraltar’s response is that Spain has no say in the matter as the area is within British waters and it has full backing from the UK who refuse to recognise the ‘Spanish designations within British waters’ even though the EC approved the site in 2008.
“The response from the EU Commission is erroneously based on the false premise that the waters around Gibraltar are anything other than exclusively British,” a spokesman for the Gibraltar government said.
A UK foreign office spokesman added: “Neither Spain nor the Commission alerted the UK to the Spanish SCI proposal. The UK does not recognise the Spanish SCI listing and is challenging the listing in the European courts.”
The EU have become embroiled in Gibraltar-gate after Gibraltar MEP Sir Graham Watson asked the commission about Spain’s failure to notify the UK about the filing of its designation.
The tension between Spain and Gibraltar has been escalated further after numerous conflicts between Spanish and Gibraltarian police, anger from Spain over Prince Edwards visit, and the provocative visit from King Juan Carlos who met with Spanish fisherman while visiting Algeciras.
There were also minor clashes during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations when provocative gestures from a small group of Spaniards prompted an angry crowd to gather around them. They were subsequently escorted over the border by police “for their own protection” after one of them kissed the badge on his Spanish football shirt during the playing of the British National Anthem. A police spokesman compared the provocation to ‘going round Tel Aviv celebrating Hitler.’