The Government has noted Sr Pique`s remarks in the Spanish press that he is considering
offering Gibraltar a few tens of thousands more telephone numbers. Sr Pique also suggested
that Gibraltar had requested one million telephone numbers and also referred to what he
calls "disloyal competition" from Gibraltar in telephone services. The
Government has also noted Sr Pique`s remarks about possible Gibraltar participation in
Brussels Agreement talks.
It is not for Spain to concede to Gibraltar any
number of telephone lines or to ration Gibraltar`s telephone numbers according to its own
assessment of our needs. Gibraltar has its own international numbering plan and Spain is
simply required to recognise this and comply with its EU obligations. Sr Pique`s supposed
offer falls well short of this. In any case, Gibraltar has not asked for one million or
any other number of telephone numbers. We have asked for our telephone numbering plan not
to be hampered by Spain. We have also asked for respect of our right under EU competition
rules to mobile telephone roaming in Spain and to receive third country traffic that
transits Spain`s network without hindrance.
Sr Pique has declared that Spain is motivated by a
desire to prevent competition from Gibraltar in the telephone industry. The extent to
which Gibraltar is able to compete with other parts of the EU (as they do with us here) in
different commercial activities is a matter of EU law and not for Spain to decide
unilaterally. However, Sr Pique`s remarks would appear to constitute a clear admission of
the illegality of Spanish behaviour on this issue under EU competition rules.
It is unconscionable and unacceptable that 5 years
after Gibraltar complained to the UK Government and to the EU Commission on these issues
there has still not been effective action by either.
Sr Pique has chosen to mention the telephone issues
and future Brussels Agreement talks in the same statement. This may mean that he sees a
link between the two. It is, needless to say, completely unacceptable to the Government of
Gibraltar that Brussels talks, or any other political process of dialogue with Spain
should displace Gibraltar`s right to enforcement of and respect for our EU rights in
accordance with EU law and procedures. The Gibraltar telephone companies` complaints to
the EU Commission are not matters to be dealt with in the context of Brussels talks.
Accordingly, these have to be satisfactorily resolved in accordance with our rights
outside of talks under the Brussels agreement, given that the Brussels process is not an
appropriate or acceptable forum to determine or condition our EU rights.