Spain recruits Argentina over Gibraltar; EU shrugs

With the Latinos cross with us again, it is time the EU actually enforced the regulations it demands we comply with when it comes to free movement

Spain's Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo
Simon Miller
On 17 August 2013 10:56

So the Latinos are cross with us again. Despite the legalities, despite the right of self-determination, Spanish paper El Pais reports that Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo is using a trip to Buenos Aires to discuss joint diplomacy over the British territories of the Falklands and Gibraltar.

Every time a Spanish government is in trouble it looks to the isthmus and starts being a pain to Gibraltarians.

But this is a new one, even for them. To team up with Argentina is, interesting to say the least.

But with both countries in trouble, it is no wonder that they both look to that stand-by -- the British territories on their doorsteps.

Both countries are economic basket cases: Spain has an unemployment rate of 26.8 percent, with youth unemployment at more than 50 percent with the economy shrinking by 0.1 percent in the second quarter of this year -- the eighth consecutive quarter of contraction.

Argentina on the other hand has a fairy reasonable 7 percent unemployment rate, with youth unemployment of 23 percent or so. Not too bad. But the problem with Argentina is that its figures can be…imaginative… to say the least. 

Although the official stats from Indec put growth at 3 percent, opposition leaders say the real growth rate is around 0.5 percent. Now, when you consider that the country is renowned for reneging on its bonds, this could be extremely costly indeed -– especially since Argentina could see a possible extra $3.5bn in debt costs next year as the stats continue to be manipulated.

Indeed, central bank reserves are already down to $37bn compares with $45bn only a year ago. In addition, inflation rates come in between 25 percent and 30 percent, double the 10-11 percent admitted by Indec.

And politically, Argentine president Christina Fernandez is in trouble. Last Sunday, Buenos Aires rejected her candidate in the mid-term congressional primary, while the bond markets have improved despite the economic woes on the horizon.

Why? Because they are pricing in that it is unlikely that Fernandez will be there post the next election.

Similarly, the Spanish people are looking with increasing dismay at their prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, and the singlular failure to stop the Germans imposing austerity demands on the already troubled country. 

In addition, the continued calls from Catalonians for independence and historic issues with the Basque also show how the struggle to maintain the Spanish state reflects back on attitudes towards the British territory in the south.

So they turn to an old enemy, the British and forget about such issues as the Argentine nationalisation of oil company YPF, which is a subsidiary of Spanish firm Repsol.

United in their view that these are their territories, and united in ignoring international treaties and the right of self-determination, they see shouting at the British as a good distraction.

It allows them to ignore their own failures; failures in economy, politics and social cohesion.

But for the UK, there is that elephant in the room: an elephant of such weight that its indolence over this issue will strike a familiar chord with all but the most die-hard Europhiles. 

It is interesting to note the very lack of language coming out of the EU or about how Spain is perfectly within its rights to implement checks as the UK is not part of the Schengen zone. 

OK, then. So let’s see what the reaction would be if the UK began implementing ‘security checks’ on all passengers from Madrid and Barcelona. Let’s see how quickly Madrid would wail to the Court of St James, let alone to the EU. 

Because, once again, the rules seem to act differently for the UK and its citizens.

Oh yes, citizens. Because, make no mistake, the Gibraltarians are British citizens if they wish to be; all they need to do is apply and even if they don’t get their entitled citizenship, they are still classed as coming from British Overseas Territories with all the protections and rights that entails.

In addition, they are entitled to free movement within the EU, thanks to EU law. But we have seen with our own problems how firmly the European Commission holds its members to that, haven’t we. 

In a way, it would be funny if it wasn’t such an indictment about how ‘unity’ appears to only work in one direction when it comes to us. 

I mean, why on earth should we expect Europe to censure Spain for siding with a foreign power over one of its own?

Why on Earth should the European Commission uphold its own laws, treaties and agreements? 

It is too much to hope that this is causing embarrassment in Brussels. But with much bleating about the importance of movement within the EU -- coinciding with the shifting demographics from the East to the richer West -- this fundamental principle is being betrayed by one member state on another.

This just adds further fuel to the argument that we exit this corrupt institution.

Simon Miller is a contributing editor to The Commentator. Follow him on Twitter @simontm71

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