Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Ninth Report


The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:—


1. The Committee reported on Gibraltar in June 1999.[6] Our inquiry followed a sharp deterioration in cross border relationships in late 1998/early 1999, but dealt with a wide variety of issues affecting the future of the Territory.

2. The Government's response to the Committee's Report was published in October 1999.[7] We pursued with the FCO a number of issues which were less than adequately dealt with in the reply, and promised to return regularly to examine progress. The Government's further responses are published with this Report.

3. The Government of Gibraltar's response to our Report and to the Government's response is also published with this Report, together with a number of other comments which we have received.

4. On 19 April, the Foreign Secretary reported to the House on the conclusion of discussions with the Spanish Government on a number of EU-related questions relevant to Gibraltar.[8] The Foreign Secretary sent the papers to the Committee, and these are published as Appendix 3 to this Report.

5. On 8 June 2000, our 1999 Report and the Government's response were the subject of a debate in Westminster Hall.[9] We regarded the Minister for Europe's reply to the debate as far from satisfactory.

6. We therefore posed a number of additional question to the Department, to which we received a response on 20 July 2000. This response is also published as Appendix 4 to this Report.

7. We intend to pursue resolutely our interest in developments in Gibraltar. We welcome the positive developments in Spanish/British relations in this and other areas which have so far occurred, but there remains a long way to go before normality is achieved.

8. We will return to this issue next session. Meanwhile, we reiterate a number of the key recommendations from our 1999 Report:

    (1)  We conclude that the present system of border controls is unacceptable and wholly inappropriate between two parts of the EU. The Spanish authorities should immediately normalise the border regime which they impose. In any event, we recommend that the British Government should not hesitate to invoke the procedures allowed under the Treaty of Amsterdam to ensure that the right of free movement of EU citizens, whether Gibraltarians or others, is respected. If the Commission is unwilling to take swift action itself, the British Government should invoke Article 227 against Spain. (Paragraph 32)

    (3)  We conclude that there is great potential in the development of the airport in a way which would assist both Spain and Gibraltar. This is an area where real progress can be made. We recommend that the British Government take advantage of its ownership of the airport to facilitate a new agreement for the joint use of Gibraltar airport. (Paragraph 41)

    (10)  We recommend that the Government take all steps open to it under the Treaties to ensure that a determination is made by the European Commission with no further delay in the case of telephone operations. (Paragraph 67)

    (12)  We recommend that a clear message be given to Spain that any attempt to block Gibraltarian entry into Schengen runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Declaration made at the time of the Amsterdam Treaty. (Paragraph 83)

    (13)  We recommend that the Government make it clear that they will ensure that all British citizens resident in Gibraltar will be able to vote in the 2004 European Parliament elections. (Paragraph 92)

    (15)  We recommend that the Government exert maximum pressure for the removal of all remaining restrictions which apply to Gibraltar in the NATO context. (Paragraph 95)

    (20)  We recommend that Señor Matutes's proposals be rejected, and that the Brussels Process be replaced by a new phase in British/Spanish relations over Gibraltar. (Paragraph 119)

    (21)  We recommend a new process of regular dialogue on those many other areas where agreement and co-operation could yield substantial benefits to Gibraltarians and Spanish people alike. (Paragraph 120)

    (22)  We recommend that the new process of dialogue should put issues of sovereignty on hold, and concentrate on exploring areas of co-operation. The full participation, on the United Kingdom side, of the Government of Gibraltar would be essential. (Paragraph 123)

9. We now further recommend that voting in the 2004 elections for the European Parliament must take place in Gibraltar, and that, if necessary, Her Majesty's Government should take unilateral action to extend the franchise to Gibraltarians.

6   Fourth Report, Session 1998-99, Gibraltar, HC 366. Back

7   Cm 4470. Back

8   HC Deb 19 April, col. 499w. Back

9   HC Deb 8 June 2000, col. 117WHff. Back

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