Tensions are escalating between Spain and the United Kingdom over the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, putting strain on the two nation’s alliance and threatening to draw in the wider European Union community to settle the issue.
Spain warned that it is ready to impose a new border tax, close its airspace to planes using the British territories airspace and vowed to investigate the affairs of Gibraltar citizens with economic interests in Spain. The threats came after Gibraltar dumped several cement blocks into its waters in what it claims will help protect fish stocks in the area by creating an artificial reef, the Spanish meanwhile argue that the action was done to prevent Spanish fishing vessels operating in the area.
The EU has entered the dispute saying that any checks at the Gibraltar border must ‘fully respect EU law and remain proportionate’. The Spanish government claims that it will impose a €50 fee to cross the border, a move that would impact the lives of thousands of Spanish and British workers.
UK foreign secretary William Hague reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the people of Gibraltar ‘at a time of increasing Spanish pressure and rhetoric’.
“We agreed that it was important to respond to actions, not rhetoric, and I confirmed that we would continue to raise our concerns with Spain,” he said in a statement following his meeting with Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the escalating tensions.
Gibraltar has been a British territory for over 300 years following the signing of the Utrecht treaty in 1713 at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. The Spanish handed over the territory “in perpetuity” but still makes claims over the land.
Most observers are saying that the Spanish government have stirred up trouble in an attempt to distract its people from the ongoing economic problems rife in the country, a similar tactic used by Argentina before the Falkland’s conflict in the 1980’s.
It’s highly unlikely a similar conflict will occur over Gibraltar but it does raise questions as to what the European Union’s response would be if war ever broke out between two member nations. It also highlights just how un-unified the various members are when one turns on another.
In Euro news the single currency remains stronger against the US Dollar and Sterling following the release of better than expected economic data out of Germany and Italy.
Euro (EUR) Exchange Rates
As of 15:20 pm
The Euro/US Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.3307 >
The Euro/Pound Sterling Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 0.8663 >
The Euro/Australian Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.4846 >
The Euro/ New Zealand Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.6916 >
The Euro/ Canadian Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.3752 >