Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Panorama Newspaper highlights our Gibraltar Issue about Spain and the bullying tactics

Our Panorama Newspaper

Our newspaper Panorama have been our no1 newspaper to highlight the issues we face daily with Spain and their bullying tactics. 

Currently there is a petition on their site to put more pressure on the UK government - please support by signing the petition - http://www.panorama.gi/ - 
it is on the right of the website

Titled -
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London: To effectively protect and defend British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

Also read the latest write up that sums it all up very well! Well Done Leo Olivero!

‘EU Habitat Directive Back on the Boil’
Margallo Considers Enforcing Spanish
Law in British Gibraltar Waters!

by Leo Olivero

A very important sovereignty related issue, which is considered, not only in Gibraltar but also in London, as one of the most serious matters surrounding the sovereignty of British Territorial Waters problem is the infamous EU Habitat Directive, which I suspect most people are aware of.

Spanish Legislation Introduced For BGTW!

This important issue is again very much under Spanish political consideration, to the point that the Spanish Government is seriously considering representations and threats of EU action against them, this by leading and internationally recognised Spanish Environmental Organisation Verdemar. The PP Government are accused by Verdemar of failing to enforce a Royal decree law, introduced late last year. Spanish legislation intrinsically linked with the said EU habitat directive.

In a nutshell - what the said EU Habitat directive did was to put the UK, Gibraltar and Spain not only in direct confrontation, but on a collision course with each other. It did this by creating a situation where for EU environmental purposes ONLY Spain was handed an area to protect, which for years was already (2006 in fact) a pre-existing UK/Gib Southern Waters of Gibraltar (SCI) site. The EU also kindly handed Spain another area of high seas and the continental shelf lying seaward (east) of BGTW. In fact, what the EU did was hand Spain an area (environmental purposes or not) which practically overlapped the whole of BGTW - nicely creating another very serious sovereignty related front with Spain!

Verdemar Threatened Spanish Government With EU Action!

Environmental organisation Verdemar has legally denounced the Spanish Foreign Minister Margallo for failing to apply and enforce a state Royal decree which ‘declares a Special Area of †Conservation Site of Community Importance in the area round Gibraltar, a biogeographical region of the Natura 2000 which they say is in line with competent EU Directive’.

Verdemar complain that the Spanish Government have failed to adopt the appropriate conservation measures. In their first page of the letter of complaint sent to Margallo, Verdemar also say that the said state regulation makes it ‘illegal and prohibits any ship refueling (bunkering) practices to take place and for the permanent mooring of tankers engaged in the supply of fuel in the waters within the protected area around the Rock’ 

In fact Verdemar also provided in their official complaint which is being handed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment Miguel Arias Cañete to handle a list of locally based bunkering companies, who they say, are permanently moored (based) in the restricted area. They have further backed this up by providing photo, graphics, images, and automatic ship identification as proof of these vessels activity and permanent presence for refuelling purposes only.

Mentioned in the complaint to the foreign ministry, are a number of local bunkering vessels who are accused of committing these infringements of so called Spanish Law in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

At the same time, they are demanding that the government in Madrid take the necessary action to stop this illegal practice. Verdemar are even asking they be informed once the Spanish authorities put the said law into practice.

The environmental organisation’s president, Antonio Muñoz has warned the Spanish government that if an appropriate response is not forthcoming, the group will refer this breach of EU law to the European Union itself!

It would not be the first time that this Spanish ecology group had resorted to the EU on this matter. The EU’s committee on petitions a few years ago probed a similar Verdemar complaint regarding bunkering in the Gibraltar bay that was rejected.

The European Commission at the time said that ‘floating petrol stations’ were not illegal. The EU executive took the view at the time that this type of bunkering does not breach European legislation.

Although the main issue here remains that Spain last November legislated laws based on an erroneous EU directive. Technically, the designation of the Estrecho Oriental site gives Spain legal obligations and responsibilities in our waters in relation to nature protection. At the same time, it seems, allowing them the power to enforce these laws in BGTW.

Margallo last year threatened that he would enforce Spain’s EU environmental obligations by sending more of his paramilitary troops into BGTW - This time not to protect fishermen but to protect the marine environment which pathetically, his own fishermen are destroying on a daily basis.

Margallo has brainlessly attempted to defend the idea of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), insisting that the plan had nothing to do with the fishing dispute. He was right it didn’t, it was totally about sovereignty!

Already there has been some very strong reactions from London and Gibraltar regarding any Spanish attempt to exert jurisdictional control in BGTW - EU Directive or not!

Hague Says The UK Takes a Grave View!

In a Written Ministerial Statement last year regarding this issue - William Hague the British Foreign Sectary informed the House Commons of the so far unsuccessful legal action that the UK Government was pursuing to reverse the adoption by the European Commission of a proposal from the Spanish Government to designate EU Site of. .

This important statement by Mr. Hague continued by saying, “The Government is disappointed by the judgment of the Court of Justice. However, this ruling is, like that of the General Court, on technical grounds and is not a judgment on the substantive points which were raised in the Government’s case. The judgment does not mean that the UK Government recognises the Spanish Estrecho Oriental SCI listing. Nor does it confer any rights on Spain within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. We are confident of the UK’s sovereignty over British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. The Court’s judgment does not change that. Nor is our position on sovereignty changed by the Spanish Government’s announcement on 30 November that it has formally approved plans to designate the Estrecho Oriental Site of Community Importance as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The UK Government does not recognise the original Spanish SCI listing and we do not recognise their attempt to designate an SAC either. We have made our position on this clear to the Spanish Government”

Mr. Hague then, as if sending out a warning to Spain said “We would take a grave view of any attempts by Spain to exert any authority or control within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters as part of implementation of an SAC management plan or for any other reason. Any attempt by a Spanish State vessel, or vessel acting on behalf of the Spanish State, to exercise jurisdiction within BGTW is a violation of British sovereignty and we will respond accordingly. We will continue to take whatever action we consider necessary to protect British sovereignty and the interests of Gibraltar, its people and economy”.

Strong words there from the top man at the Foreign Office, an important statement in fact the meaning of which, is being closely being monitored in Gibraltar, particularly as the situation in the bay and east side deteriorates.

The Chief Minister: It Would be a Serious International Confrontation!

Mr. Picardo for his part also said late last year and insisted that such action by Spain would cause a ‘serious international confrontation’ and compared the current Spanish government to Franco’s fascist regime. He said:

“Let them try, because there are bunkering stations throughout the bay and that will be a serious international confrontation. However much they say they will tighten the screws on Gibraltar, we have to say that this has been tried already. That is the policy of the past, the failed and sterile attempts by Franco’s fascist government.”

One Big Spanish Anti-Gibraltar Conspiracy - We Said it in Panorama!

Personally, there are too many things happening at the same time, especially from a Spanish Anti-Gibraltar perspective, news that has been extensively covered in Panorama. A situation that clearly leads me to conclude that the Verdemar threat and so called pressure on the Spanish Government to enforce Spanish related EU laws ‘is all part of a PP Government Conspiracy to bring Gibraltar to its knees’.

Consider The Following:

Conspiracy One: As Reported in Panorama last week - The Spanish Government has embarked on their latest ‘Anti-Gibraltar Offensive’. - Deciding to intensify its action by attempting to destabilise Gibraltar’s OECD related Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) with individual countries. This by instructing all its Ambassadors to warn-off the various countries that Spain, insists on having the UK flag or British representative at the agreement signing ceremony.

Conspiracy Two: Also reported in Panorama - The PP Government have also made it known they will attempt to block Gibraltar from any up dated air liberalisation measures that are expected to be passed in the spring. The fact that Madrid has now clearly dumped the Cordoba Agreement was itself a very good indicator of their renewed insistence that the Rock should be left out of any new EU air package deal.

Conspiracy Three: We are reporting today – regarding the possible move by Spain to enforce so called Spanish laws (EU related directives) in BGTW.

Conspiracy Four: Another well reported Panorama story: the manic Spanish obsession of attempting to stop Gibraltar’s progress in sport, with their on going efforts to prevent the GFA from becoming a full member of UEFFA.

Claiming the 12 Mile Territorial Limited Must Now Be a Priority!

Panorama some months ago publicly called for the UK and Gibraltar to effectively push and claim from the United Nations the 12 Mile Territorial Waters , which under the pertinent UN Convention, the Rock has a legitimate right to claim. Why is this important now? Well, it is obvious that appealing against the EU habitat directive is a waste of time, particularly if a Spanish judge is continuously going to preside over, making one sided Spanish judgments inevitable!

The only other course open, is to attempt to derail the EU habitat directive by claiming the 12 miles out to sea.,triggering I’m sure, a Spanish official objection, which I presume would legally come under a UN convention of the sea umbrella and decided in that UN forum. This is where Spain I suspect will have stopped hiding behind the ‘Treaty of Utrecht Mask’ and put all its dirty 300-year-old cards on the table.

A modern UN ruling regarding Gibraltar’s legitimacy to its Territorial Waters would from any sovereignty perspective, be a tremendous step forward for Gibraltar and override in my view, any EU environmentally related directive!


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