F0REIGN AFFAIRS

Foreign Minister plans to clip Gibraltar's wings at EU meeting

Spain wants territory's airport excluded from the so-called Single European Sky legislation

The governing Popular Party is set to take the offensive in Spain's long-running dispute with Gibraltar in 2013. Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo plans to slowly but steadily dismantle the concessions granted to the British overseas territory by the previous Socialist government that the PP feels have strengthened The Rock's sovereignty without Spain receiving the benefits it had expected in return.

The foreign minister's opening gambit will be to try and have Gibraltar International Airport excluded from the so-called Single European Sky legislation. The directive was scheduled to be approved under Cyprus's tenure of the rotating EU presidency but was delayed and will now be handled under Ireland's watch. The matter will be on the agenda at the next meeting of EU transport ministers.

The veto on Gibraltar's airport was lifted in 2006 after a meeting of the Trilateral Forum between Madrid, London and Gibraltar.

The Córdoba Accord of 2006 lifted restrictions on Gibraltar's airport - including a ban on flights over Spanish airspace - in return for the creation of a jointly owned company to provide airport services.

Now the Spanish government wants to return to the pre-2006 status quo. García-Margallo in December said that the Trilateral Forum would not be pursued by the PP: "We are not at the table under conditions of equality," the minister said.

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