DOWNING Street yesterday said it was “seriously considering” legal action against Spain as the diplomatic dispute over access to Gibraltar escalates further.
Spain insists it is within its rights to impose stringent checks on those crossing the border between the Iberian nation and the British-owned peninsula, insisting its actions are “legal and proportionate”.
Extra security has led to lengthy tailbacks for Gibraltar residents travelling from the continent, who have also been angered by Spain’s proposal to introduce a €50 (£43) charge for crossing the border.
At the weekend the Spanish government hinted that it could take the matter to the UN security council and seek the support of Argentina, which is in a similar dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.
Although both Gibraltar and Spain are in the EU, Britain’s decision not to join the Schengen free movement area means there is still a checkpoint on the only road out of the territory.
Royal Navy warships are currently sailing towards the rock in what the Ministry of Defence insists is a routine deployment.
Meanwhile, the European Commission responded to complaints from British MEPs by saying it would send observers to the border within the next few weeks.
The row hinges on Gibraltar’s construction of an artificial reef, which Spain believes will kill the local fishing industry. However, Gibraltar politicians claim there are only a handful of trawlers operating out of nearby ports.