Call for better deal for Gibraltar

Speaking to Spanish Vice-Prime Minister Mar?a Teresa Fern?ndez de la Vega in Strasbourg yesterday, European Liberal Democrat Leader Graham Watson (who also represents Gibraltar's citizens as part of his European Parliament mandate) voiced concerns about the impact of the constitutional stand off between the UK and Spain on Gibraltar's growth and development.

"Gibraltar's citizens are continuously discriminated against in the EU because of this sticky situation. We are making progress but still encounter difficulties every time we try to apply a single market measure" said Graham Watson.

On the subject of the much awaited allocation of EU Structural Funds to boost investment and modernisation in Europe's poorer regions, Graham Watson pointed out that although the prosperity gap between Europe's regions is narrowing, there are still worrying economic and social disparities in Europe. "The regional financial allocations for 2007 - 2013 will be announced before the summer break. However, the clock is ticking and precious preparation time for major post-2006 projects is being lost. For the first year of the next financial perspective, the European Commission estimates that 56 % of the Structural and Cohesion Funds will be allocated for the EU-15. West European regions should capitalise on this opportunity to strengthen their employment and competitiveness by using EU funds" said ALDE's Leader Graham Watson.

During his meeting with Vice-Prime Minister De la Vega he also voiced his support in particular for the Spanish government's approach to achieving peace in the Basque country.