Rules to coordinate airspace regulations should not be delayed by Spanish efforts to exclude Gibraltar.
There aren't many parliamentarians that are able to say they represent both the north and south of Europe in their constituency - but happily I can. Gibraltar went to the European court of justice to achieve representation in parliament and is now part of the south west of England and Gibraltar constituency that I am proud to represent.
There are many things to celebrate about Gibraltar: the thriving economy, the drive to build new social housing and the promotion of environmental protection, among many others. However, at present, it is also central to ensuring the single European sky II+ (SES II+) is brought into force.
Gibraltar hasn't always had easy relations with its neighbour, Spain, and under the current Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy, there have been particular problems recently. These have been most visible in the form of border delays, which frustrate the day-to- day lives not just of Gibraltarians, but also thousands of Spanish people who cross the border daily to work.
For people on the Gibraltarian border, such as the people of La Linea in Andalucía, Gibraltar is a valued partner. The daily interactions between the Spanish and Gibraltarian people shows how relations could and should work across the border, as good neighbours within the EU.
It had been hoped that SES II+ would be agreed at the transport ministers' meeting in December, but that wasn't to be. The Spanish government attempted to exclude Gibraltar and its airport from SES II+, something unacceptable to the UK government.
These rules will coordinate airspace regulation and planning across the 28 member states, something that should cover all airports and passengers across the EU regardless of borders. However, as a consequence of the attempts to exclude Gibraltar from this legislation, it is now in limbo.
In November, I wrote to the commission about this issue and followed up in January by asking if Gibraltar is included in the transport titles of the Lisbon treaty. The commission confirmed that it is. I have written an open letter with chair of parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee Claude Moraes calling for the commission and council to take action on unblocking the single sky issue.
I have also spoken with colleagues on parliament's transport committee in an effort to build an alliance to ensure SES II+ is agreed with Gibraltar included and the legislation is not used as a tool in an unrelated matter. SES II+ should have been a good news story but it has now become an unnecessary controversy.
If a piece of legislation is necessary then surely it must cover north, east, south and west. EU legislation should apply to the whole of the EU equally.
This opinion piece originally appeared online at the The Parliament Magazine.