EU clears Spain in new row with Britain over Gibraltar
The EU executive on Friday said it had found no proof of British claims that Spain had violated European Union rules on border and customs checks at Gibraltar's border.
"The Commission has not found evidence to conclude that the checks on persons and goods as operated by the Spanish authorities at the crossing point of La Linea de la Conception have infringed the relevant provisions of Union law," a European Commission statement said.
Brussels said its findings were based both on its observations during a technical visit on September 25 and on information provided by both sides.
But the Commission said "the management of this crossing point is nevertheless challenging, in view of the heavy traffic volumes in a relatively confined space and the increase in tobacco smuggling into Spain."
The EU inspectors were sent to assess customs controls at Gibraltar's border with Spain to soothe a feud between London and Madrid over the territory.
Britain has accused Spain of imposing stringent border checks since late July in retaliation for Gibraltar placing concrete blocks in the sea to protect the waters from over-fishing.
Spain complains that the blocks threaten the livelihoods of Spanish fishermen and blames Gibraltar for an increase in tobacco smuggling to the Spanish mainland.
Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. London says it will not do so against the wishes of Gibraltarians, who are staunchly pro-British.
© 2013 AFP