The statements from the former head of the Guardia Civil in the Campo de Gibraltar, Mr Jesus Nuñez in which he suggests a lack of cooperation on tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar are factually incorrect and totally unfair.
The fact is that Gibraltar is already, voluntarily and without obligation, applying the Memorandum on Tobacco agreed under the Gibraltar Protocol to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement. This essential fact appears not to understood by Mr Nuñez or by the person interviewing him. As a result, the facts and reality on the ground are very different to those presented by Mr Nuñez. Both the premise on which the interview is undertaken and his answers given are totally incorrect.
In fact, whilst rightly praising the cooperation between the RGP and its law enforcement counterparts in Spain, which Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar warmly welcomes, Mr Nuñez then goes on to mistakenly suggest that there is not enough action or cooperation on matter relating to tobacco smuggling and Customs action.
Mr Nuñez could not be more wrong. It is important to note that the Memorandum on Tobacco reduces the price difference between the product on both sides of the frontier.
In addition, Mr Nunez should be aware that more actions, arrests and operations are carried out in Gibraltar by HM Customs against those who want to avoid the strict rules on tobacco trade in Gibraltar, than are carried out in Spain.
Gibraltar’s rules to restrict the trade in tobacco are stricter than in Spain and have been tightened even further in the past years. Indeed, Gibraltar’s tobacco control laws are amongst the toughest in the world whilst, ironically, in Spain the rules on the illicit trade on tobacco have been made less strict in the past few years.
Additionally, the Government has made available to HM Customs not just legal tools but also the necessary assets on land and sea in order to allow them to carry out their work as they need to. We will continue to provide such assets in the future.
The Chief Minister of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “I am very pleased to see Jesus Nuñez reflect the reality of the excellent law enforcement cooperation that exists between Gibraltar and Spain. I am, however, very disappointed that Mr Nuñez has failed to understand the reality of the work being done in Gibraltar, primarily but not exclusively by our brilliant officers from HM Customs, to stop Spanish tobacco smugglers. He has failed to appreciate the excellent work done by our Customs officers and the magnificent tools we have put at their disposal – allowing more assets than ever to be able to combat Spanish tobacco smugglers. Neither he nor his Europasur interviewer appear to be aware of basic facts such as the application already – voluntarily – by Gibraltar of the MoU on tobacco in order to curb Spanish tobacco smugglers.
“Mr Nuñez also seems to fail to appreciate that, as Gibraltar’s laws have been made tougher in the control of the illicit tobacco market, Spanish penalties and rules have, unhelpfully, been relaxed.
“Gibraltar would like to see Spain make its anti-smuggling penalties and rules tougher and not more relaxed in order to assist Gibraltar in curbing Spanish national attempts to smuggle tobacco.
“Only last week an anti-tobacco operation being carried out by Customs officers in Gibraltar led to an officer being injured in the discharge of his duties, something of great concern to the Government and the reason why we will continue to invest in the equipment put at the disposal of HM Customs officers to enable them to carry out their excellent work as safely as possible.”