Following rising tensions between Spain and the UK over Gibraltar the Spanish Government has hit back by accusing Britain of failing to tackle the sharp rise in tobacco smuggling at the border.
In a statement Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said that cooperation with law enforcement agencies in Gibraltar has deteriorated.
The criticism comes just a day after UK Europe Minister David Lidington denounced continued delays at the border and urged Spain to act on EC recommendations.
Spain’s Jose Manuel García-Margallo claimed that tobacco seizures at the border with Gibraltar have increased 213% between 2010 and 2013.
Reportedly, 97,146 cartons were seized in 2013 and the trend has continued this year, with 13, 781 cartons confiscated in the first two months of 2014.
Spain’s statement reads: “Spain has established, over the past few months, that the UK has to adopt the necessary measures to tackle smuggling.
“Cooperation with local Gibraltarian authorities, far from improving, unfortunately appears to be worsening.
“This lack of cooperation in the face of an increase requires Spain to intensify controls both in the waters and at the fence.
The Ministry cited a recent incident in which a Guardia Civil officer was injured while intercepting cigarette smugglers in UK waters.
The Ministry has also said that overland cigarette exports into Gibraltar tripled between 2006 and 2011, with the trend intensifying since then to reach more than 11.4 million cartons exported into Gibraltar overland in 2013.