Monday

23rd Apr 2018

EU demands crackdown on Gibraltar tobacco smuggling

  • EU watchdog OLAF stated its concerns about tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar. (Photo: Scott Wylie)

Spain and British-run Gibraltar have been told to crack down on cross-border tobacco smuggling by the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog.

The recommendation by the European Union anti-fraud office (Olaf) follows a year-long investigation conducted after a request from Spain.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In its report, which will not be made public, Olaf said that there had been "a significant increase in the size of the Gibraltar market for cigarettes over the past four years" and that there were “indications of the involvement of organised crime".

Olaf called on Spain and Gibraltar, which is classified as a British overseas territory, to "initiate judicial proceedings".

“As Olaf can carry out only administrative investigations, it is for those authorities to decide what further actions may be necessary," it said in a statement on Monday (11 August).

The investigation was requested by Madrid following a long-running dispute with Britain about border controls in Gibraltar.

The Spanish government stepped up its border operations last year, introducing random spot-checks, claiming that the extra surveillance was needed to combat rising levels of tobacco smuggling.

Cigarettes are around 40 percent cheaper on the British "Rock" than in Spain.

More than 139 million smuggled cigarettes from Gibraltar were seized by Spanish authorities in 2012.

But the UK government argued that the extra checks, at a border which sees 10,000 cars cross per day, were a politically motivated attempt to disrupt normal life.

For its part, the European Commission waded into the row last autumn, calling on Spain to reduce random border checks and to "develop the exchange of information with the United Kingdom on tobacco smuggling."

Meanwhile, London was told to increase "non systematic and risk-analysis based checks on travellers and their belongings" in a bid to crack down on smuggling.

The two countries have, for centuries, disputed the sovereignty of the territory on Spain's southern coast.

Madrid and London in new Gibraltar row

Spain has said it is considering imposing a €50 levy on those entering and leaving Gibraltar amid an escalating row with the UK over fishing rights.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  3. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  5. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  6. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  7. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  8. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  9. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  10. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations

Latest News

  1. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  2. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  3. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP
  4. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  5. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  6. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  7. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  8. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes