THE BLOG

Has the Foreign Office Forgotten About Gibraltar? Labour's Five Point Plan to Support Gibraltar

17/04/2014 12:34 BST | Updated 16/06/2014 10:59 BST

It is now six months since the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, welcomed the European Commission's report into the delays at the Spanish/Gibraltar border.

Since then the situation has gone from bad to worse, as data collected on the ground shows an average waiting time at the border of 91 minutes with some delays of up to three hours.

At this time of year many of those travellers are British holidaymakers and their families. It is simply unacceptable that they're forced to queue for longer than it takes to play a football match simply to cross from Gibraltar to Spain.

Whilst I've travelled twice to Gibraltar in the last six months, unfortunately no Foreign Office Minister has visited since the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo formed his administration in 2011.

That's why Labour is calling for a Foreign Office Minister to visit Gibraltar as soon as possible to witness first hand the unnecessary delays and disruption to travellers trying to cross the border.

Labour is also calling for urgent discussions between the UK Government and the European Commission to ensure their promised six month follow-up review materialises and appropriate action is taken.

The Commission reportedly saw no evidence of improper delays caused by Spain at the border, yet still residents and businesses in Gibraltar who make heavy use of the crossing to reach their jobs and relatives in Spain are facing long and unnecessary delays.

The incursion by Spanish flagged vessels into British Gibraltarian Territorial Waters is also of deep concern and it's time the Ministry of Defence considered whether to increase the size of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron and base a warship in the surrounding area.

Labour is also calling for urgent discussions between Foreign Office Ministers and the Spanish Government and the re-establishment of the trilateral forum, set up by the previous Labour Government involving Spain, Gibraltar and the UK, to restore dialogue and work to reduce delays at the border and unauthorised incursions.

Six months on from the European Commission's report it's time some real progress was made.