(The Gibraltar Chronicle) In an article by Brian Reyes, The Gibraltar Chronicle says that Britain could soon join Gibraltar in its legal challenge against the European Commission over the Rock’s territorial waters. Last month the Gibraltar Government said it was taking the Commission to court in Strasbourg for allowing Spain to designate Gibraltar waters as a protected Spanish site under EU nature legislation. Read the whole article below>
BRITAIN ‘LIKELY TO BACK GIB LEGAL ACTION’
by Brian Reyes
Britain could soon join Gibraltar in its legal challenge against the European Commission over the Rock’s territorial waters.
Last month the Gibraltar Government said it was taking the Commission to court in Strasbourg for allowing Spain to designate Gibraltar waters as a protected Spanish site under EU nature legislation.
Chief Minister Peter Caruana said yesterday that he believed the British Government would sign up to the case too.
“The UK now has the opportunity to show its support for the Gibraltar position by intervening in the Gibraltar legal case in support of Gibraltar,” he told the Chronicle. “I expect that they will.”
Mr Caruana said it would be incomprehensible – “either in Gibraltar or in parliament in the United Kingdom” – for Britain not to stand alongside the Gibraltar Government in this case.
“At the moment the indications are that they are gearing up for intervention, but I suppose the final decision has not been made,” Mr Caruana said.
Last night a spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office declined to comment on Britain’s plans on this issue, other than to say that all options remained open.
The row over the waters stems from a decision by Brussels to approve a Spanish request to list most of Gibraltar’s territorial sea – and an area of international waters too – as one of Spain’s protected sites under EU law.
In doing so, the Commission ignored the fact that Britain has jurisdiction over these waters and had already designated part of them as a European protected site in 2006.
British representatives in Brussels failed to detect the Spanish move until it was too late.
“It should have been spotted sooner [but] it wasn’t,” Mr Caruana said.
“As a result of the fact that the UK didn’t spot it sooner, they were out of time to challenge it in law.”
“We have therefore had to challenge it in law because our time limit ended later.”
Gibraltar’s challenge is based on errors of applicable international law, European law, applicable EU legal principles and errors of fact, the Gibraltar Government said.
The Government is represented by David Vaughan QC, a London lawyer specialising in EU and international law, and Michael Llamas.