Font size





Government of Gibraltar Logo Government of Gibraltar Logo

Gonzalez Pons will not get away with such abuse says Government - 355/2024

May 20, 2024

The Government roundly condemn the latest comments about Gibraltar from Partido Popular spokesman Esteban González Pons. It is extremely serious that a senior Spanish politician should seek to dehumanise Gibraltar and its people through the use of insulting and vicious language which should have no place in the modern Europe of today.

Indeed, comments of this nature, even in the context of the European election campaign, will only serve to incite hatred and to divide people, a common tactic used by extremist organisations and individuals all over the planet. It is disappointing that a senior public figure should demonstrate such startling ignorance of the reality of this part of Europe. Mr Pons is inaccurate and just plain wrong in much of what he has said.

Firstly, the facts show that Gibraltar is an economic benefit to Spain and not a drain. There are 15,000 people who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar, including some 10,000 Spanish nationals. Gibraltar purchases some 1 BILLION euros a year in goods and services from Spain. This put Gibraltar as export market number 41 for Spanish industry, out of a possible 222 territories. Moreover, the latest impact study suggests that residents of Gibraltar spend over 80 million euros a year shopping, buying foodstuffs and other goods and services in Andalucía region. In addition to this, Gibraltar residents with a second home in Spain spend over 70 million euros annually in the neighbouring country. This means that Gibraltar accounts for 25% of the GDP of the Campo de Gibraltar and, as a whole, is the second largest employer for the neighbouring region of Andalucía.


It is clear that all this generates economic wealth, employment and activity all over the south of the country. Mr Pons regrettably fails to understand the close and positive economic relationship that exists. Indeed, Mr Pons should note that when the pandemic hit the region the Gibraltarian taxpayer paid the wages of all Spanish and Spanish resident workers on the Rock who were not able to work.  Additionally, we ensured that all cross-frontier workers were administered Covid vaccines supplied by the United Kingdom at the same time as Gibraltarian residents. This collaboration and co-operation is the reality of the relationship between Gibraltar and the Campo, and not the misleading and negative view that Mr Pons has today used to mislead his fellow Spaniards in trying to prejudice them against the people of Gibraltar. 

Secondly, the accusation that Gibraltar is a tax haven is also untrue. The tax-exempt company was abolished in 2010. The European Commission itself approved the Gibraltar Income Tax Act 2010, showing it was an entirely proper tax regime in keeping with EU rules which has also enjoyed the support of the EU's Code Group. Gibraltar has been removed from the list of the Financial Action Task Force set up by the OECD. The European Commission has also proposed, after the same factual technical analysis, the removal of Gibraltar from the EU list. That decision was only overturned by the European Parliament, at the instigation of the PP itself, and purely for political reasons which have no basis in fact. Gibraltar has tax exchange information agreements with 139 countries, including on a reciprocal basis since March 2021 with Spain itself!


Thirdly, that Mr Pons should accuse Gibraltar of acting as a refuge for drugs launches, drug smuggling and money laundering is an absolute disgrace. The model of launches used by smugglers were outlawed in Gibraltar in 1995. They are still in use in Spain but not here. Gibraltar has also been praised by law enforcement in Spain for outlawing the storage of petrol in containers meant for the supply of such launches, something which remains legal across the border. The PP politician is so out of touch that he calls for Gibraltar to comply with EU financial standards without being aware that Gibraltar already does so, even though we have left the European Union.

The Government is very concerned at both the tone and the content of the latest comments made by the PP spokesman and will not allow such insults and untruths to rest unchallenged. His crude reference to Gibraltar as an “infection” is dehumanising and simply unacceptable language in any context, still more so when related to an allied and friendly territory. This kind of incitement to hatred has no place in the modern world we are all trying to build.

The irony is that all the mainstream parties of left and right in Europe are united in condemning discrimination and hate, including Mr Pons and his own political grouping in the European Parliament. It is regrettable that by using hateful and discriminatory rhetoric when it comes to Gibraltar, Mr Pons is distancing himself from the proud democratic traditions of Europe which have and will continue to allow us living side by side and supporting the continued shared prosperity of this area.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo KC MP, said: "The truth about Gibraltar and its People must be told to challenge these atrocious comments that seek to dehumanise and create feelings of hate and prejudice against us based on self evident lies. Meanwhile, we will keep working with the United Kingdom in the negotiations with the EU to ensure that we are not derailed in seeking a safe and secure treaty for Gibraltar."