Conservative MEPs condemn Spanish bullying over new air rules

04-Dec-2014 @ 12:0

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

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Conservative MEPs reacted angrily today to moves by Spain to block an ambitious Europe-wide aviation agreement...unless Gibraltar is excluded.

Madrid is threatening to scupper the so-called Single European Sky initiative because of its long-running argument with Britain over the sovereignty of The Rock and its airport.

The EU Council of transport ministers agreed yesterday to press ahead with Single Sky, which has been on the drawing board since 2004 and would merge national air corridors to create shorter flight paths and cut costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

The Council did not take any position, however, on whether Gibraltar Airport should be included. Spain's transport minister of public works complained that the airport, situated on the narrow strip of land linking Gibraltar to Spain,  was "an area which is being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom".

The inclusion or otherwise of Gibraltar will now be decided in further negotiations between the EU Commission and European Parliament.

Ashley Fox and Julie Girling, Conservative MEPs for the South West and Gibraltar, condemned the Spanish demands as "bullying and posturing".

Mr Fox said: "Spain's stance is provocative and unreasonable as well as illogical and illegal. It flies in the face of the 2006 Cordoba agreement, whereby Spain agreed to stop seeking the exclusion of Gibraltar airport from EU aviation measures.

"Madrid is bullying and posturing while breaking its promises. We will not be party to any agreement that excludes Gibraltar's airport.  Gibraltar is British as well as part of the EU. No amount of sulking will change that.

Mrs Girling said:  “Single Sky is supposed to help not hinder free movement across European airspace. Spain simply cannot accept that Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom and so they want Gibraltar to be excluded from the EU aviation law.

"This is nonsense and blocks the whole process for implementing the Single Sky Initiative until agreement is reached. I hope that this issue will help other member states to realise the difficulties that Gibraltar and the UK constantly suffer in the face of ‎Spanish hostility. “

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