Saturday

24th Jul 2021

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us