UK MEP accuses EU of a ‘cop out’ and ‘washing its hands of Gibraltar territorial waters’ dispute - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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UK MEP accuses EU of a ‘cop out’ and ‘washing its hands of Gibraltar territorial waters’ dispute

Sunday, 14 April 2013
A UK Liberal Democrat MEP has accused the European Commission of “washing its hands of Gibraltar territorial waters” after receiving an unsatisfactory reply from the Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik to a parliamentary question.

Chris Davies MEP, who sits on both the European Parliament’s Environment and Fisheries Committees, submitted a Parliamentary question to the European Commission last month to try and extract a clear statement regarding the situation of marine conservation around Gibraltar.

In his parliamentary question (E-001631/2013) he asked the Commission which country or countries were legally responsible for the supervision and control of fishing in the area up to 5km from and around the coast of Gibraltar, which country or countries were legally responsible for activities affecting the seabed, and what EU protected nature sites were located in this area and who was responsible for their management and protection.

The reply received on 3 April reads simply: “The Commission is not in a position to comment on the legal responsibilities of Member States in the area in question, as jurisdictional issues concerning these marine waters are a matter for Member States to address in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”. The reply then refers to answers previously provided to four questions tabled by fellow Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson, who represents Gibraltar in Brussels.

Speaking exclusively to Gibraltar’s Panorama newspaper, Mr Davies said: “I think it will come as a surprise to many MEPs that the European Union seems to have washed its hands entirely of matters relating to Gibraltar, even when they directly relate to our common policies on fisheries and the environment, and even when they are of common interest to European citizens.

It’s a cop out to say the least.

In June 2012, Commissioner Potočnik said both the United Kingdom and Spain must cooperate in their management of EU protected sites around the disputed Rock of Gibraltar and the governments should have informed each other about their intentions before designating nature sites in disputed territory and added that both sides had legal obligations to protect the designated site of specific cultural interest (SCI).

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