UK to EU: Urgently send monitors to Spain-Gibraltar border

LONDON Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:21pm BST

A man begs for money as motorists proceed to enter the British territory of Gibraltar at its border with Spain in La Linea de la Concepcion, southern Spain August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

A man begs for money as motorists proceed to enter the British territory of Gibraltar at its border with Spain in La Linea de la Concepcion, southern Spain August 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jon Nazca

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LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday asked European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to "urgently" send monitors to Gibraltar's border with Spain where tightened security checks are fuelling a row between the two countries.

Cameron raised the matter in a phone call with Barroso on Friday, saying he had serious concerns that these extra checks were "politically motivated and disproportionate" and "illegitimate" under European Union laws.

"We believe that the European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, should investigate the issue," said a spokesman from Cameron's office.

Cameron's intervention reflects growing British frustration that a row over an artificial reef built by Gibraltar, a contested British overseas territory, has become one of the worst in years between the two EU member states with no sign of ending.

Spain argued that the reef would disrupt its fishing industry and subsequently tightened up checks at its border with Gibraltar, resulting in delays of several hours for residents and tourists.

The EU executive previously said it planned to send a team of monitors to Gibraltar next month to check whether Spain was breaking EU rules on frontier controls, but the spokesman said Cameron had asked Barroso to ensure it was sent "urgently".

(Reporting By Andrew Osborn; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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