In relation to the escalating problem at Gibraltar, a British government spokesman said, "We are still actively pursuing legal action. If we do pursue it, the first step would be for the European commission to investigate the issue. That is why the prime minister spoke to President [José Manuel] Barroso."
At the same time. Spanish papers report that the president of the European Commission (EC) Jose Manuel Barroso today agreed with Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy about sending a Community mission to assess the situation on the border of Gibraltar "as soon as possible".
That means that both sides seem to be welcoming an investigation by the EU into the British claim that there are unreasonable delays at the border which the Spanish say are necessary to control increased smuggling of tobacco.
Having been warned that setting a 50 euro tax at the border would be illegal, the Spanish government is now considering setting a levy on the border with Gibraltar in the form of a congestion charge in Linea de la Concepcion. They claim that such a charge will be fully compatible with EU standards and will be similar to that already imposed in London.
They say that the congestion charge in Linea de la Concepcion would be justified due to, "the large increase in traffic that is recorded in this town and the effects this has on the environment and on the living conditions of its inhabitants." I am guessing that whoever dreamt up this idea has never actually visited London.
Meanwhile, the Royal Navy gunboat HMS Westminster, along with other vessels, arrived in Gibraltar yesterday to a cheering crowd on the quayside. Gibraltarians believe that the presence of a warship in the harbour will deter the Spanish fishermen from any further action.