Monday, 6 June 2011

EU Court rejects Gibraltar / UK waters case

GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle) Convent Place has declared its decision to appeal the European Court ruling that the Gibraltar and UK Government’s waters cases are “inadmissible on procedural grounds.” In a statement yesterday Chief Minister Peter Caruana said there are “absolutely no circumstances” in which the Government will permit local waters to be treated other than as waters of “exclusive British sovereignty, under exclusive jurisdiction of the Gibraltar Government.” A Convent Place spokesman said: “The General Court of the European Court has ruled both the Gibraltar Government’s and the UK Government’s ‘waters cases’ inadmissible on procedural grounds, and without an oral hearing or a consideration of the merits of the cases.

“The Gibraltar Government’s European legal team have advised the Government that the ruling is highly appealable and the Government have therefore authorised them to draw up and submit an appeal to the European Court of Justice.

Chief Minister, Peter Caruana said: “Our case sought to protect Gibraltar from the adverse consequences to British Sovereignty and exclusive Gibraltar jurisdiction of the British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

“For that reason, the Gibraltar Government considers it necessary and desirable to appeal the ruling that the Gibraltar Government’s case is inadmissible, and hopes that the UK will do the same in respect of its case.

“There are absolutely no circumstances in which the Gibraltar Government will permit British Gibraltar Territorial Waters to be treated, administered or governed for EU or any other purposes other than as waters of exclusive British Sovereignty, under the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the Gibraltar Government and Gibraltar Authorities and subject to the exclusive application of Gibraltar laws”.

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.

In 2009 the Gibraltar Government filed a legal challenge against the EC’s initial decision to list the Spanish site. That case sought to have the EC’s decision annulled but a similar move by Britain filed last year has now been ruled as out of time.

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