British MEP loses Brexit visa role over Gibraltar row

Claude Moraes. (twitter)
Updated 02 April 2019

British MEP loses Brexit visa role over Gibraltar row

  • Spain has a long-standing claim on the rocky territory on its southern shore, while the British government insists it be treated as part of the “UK family” in Brexit talks

BRUSSELS: A British member of the European Parliament lost his role negotiating a post-Brexit visa law on Monday, amid a dispute over a draft that refers to Gibraltar as a colony.
As chairman of the parliament’s civil liberties and justice committee, Claude Moraes had been guiding negotiations on a draft law to issue visa waivers to Britons once their country leaves the European Union.
“Coordinators met earlier today and decided to change the rapporteur on the Brexit visa related file,” Moraes, a member of Britain’s Labour Party, confirmed, adding that Bulgarian member Sergei Stanishev will take charge.
Diplomats told AFP that EU member states had pushed for Moraes to be bumped from the visa law talks because he was reluctant to accept a draft referring to Gibraltar as “a colony of the British crown.”
A parliamentary official told AFP that EU leaders had decided Moraes had a “conflict of interest” and that speaker Antonio Tajani had informed him of this, without explicitly asking him to step down.
But some of Moraes’ colleagues denounced the intervention, suggesting that the lawmaker had been forced aside.
Czech liberal and committee colleague Petr Jezek said the parliament had “shot itself in the foot” by removing a member who had been faithfully representing the body’s position on the law.
And a Conservative British MEP, Daniel Dalton said Moraes had “been forced out for rightly opposing Spanish attempts to describe Gibraltar as a colony in the text. Gibraltar is British.”
Spain has a long-standing claim on the rocky territory on its southern shore, while the British government insists it be treated as part of the “UK family” in Brexit talks.
In November, the European Commission suggested that after Britain leaves the bloc — as it currently plans to do on April 12 — Britons who want to make short stays on the continent would receive a visa waiver.
Negotiations on the text of a law have bogged down, however, because of Spain’s insistence that it reflect Gibraltar’s status as what the United Nations terms a “non self-governing” territory.
MEPs want to adopt the proposed law next Thursday, but the text must first be agreed with the Commission, which is the EU executive, and the European Council, which represents member states, including Spain.


In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

Updated 04 July 2020

In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

  • The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths

LA PAZ, Bolivia: The rising toll of COVID-19 deaths is overwhelming the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, where desperate relatives of one apparent victim of the new coronavirus left his coffin in the street for several hours on Saturday to protest difficulties in getting him buried.
Neighbor Remberto Arnez said the 62-year-old man had died on Sunday and his body had been in his home ever since, “but that’s risky because of the possible contagion.”
After a few hours, funeral workers showed up and took the coffin to a cemetery.
Police Col. Iván Rojas told a news conference that the city is collecting “about 17 bodies a day. This is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers” in the city of some 630,000 people.
“The crematorium oven is small, that that is where the bodies are collecting,” said national Labor Minister Óscar Mercado, who told reporters that officials were preparing 250 new burial plots in the city’s main cemetery.
The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths.