Friday

30th Sep 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants

Balkan leaders said in New York there would be no repetition of last year's mass influx of refugees, as the EU prepares to launch a new border force to keep people out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAEFA Supports a YES Vote in the Hungarian Referendum
  2. ACCAFinTech Boom Needs Strong Guidance to Navigate Regulatory Hurdles
  3. Counter BalanceWhy the Investment Plan for Europe Does not Drive the Sustainable Energy Transition
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  5. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  6. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  7. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  8. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  9. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  10. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  11. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  12. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List