Spain and Morocco meet to agree on the complete reopening of the borders of Ceuta and Melilla
Moroccan workers demonstrate by displaying their work permits and demanding to be able to go to Ceuta without a visa on May 31 in the Moroccan town of Castillejos.
Moroccan workers demonstrate by displaying their work permits and demanding to be able to go to Ceuta without a visa on May 31 in the Moroccan town of Castillejos.FADEL SENNA (AFP)

Interministerial delegations from Spain and Morocco will meet next Tuesday in Madrid to “establish the modalities and the schedule for completing the process of normalizing the movement of people and goods” across the borders of Ceuta and Melilla, according to Spanish government sources. The same sources assured that the meeting will be held “in the framework of the application of the commitments [plasmados] of the joint declaration of April 7″, when the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, visited King Mohamend VI in Rabat, “in particular, in relation to the progressive normalization of the movement of people and goods, through the customs and people control systems”.

The sources consulted did not clarify whether the schedule to be agreed upon will include the reopening of the commercial customs office in Melilla, unilaterally closed by Morocco in the summer of 2018, and the opening of a commercial customs office in Ceuta, which has never existed until now. but they underlined that the agreement refers to “customs controls for the control of people and goods at the two land posts”; therefore, also in Ceuta.

The reopening of the two land borders between the two countries is being carried out slowly and not without difficulties. On May 17, the border posts were reopened for the first time after more than two years closed to the bone, but only for Spanish citizens and foreigners with a residence permit and Schengen visa. Two weeks later, on May 31, the passage was reopened for cross-border workers residing in the neighboring towns of Morocco, but almost none were able to go to the two Spanish places, since they lacked a visa and those who had a valid contract before the pandemic saw how it was annulled.

The Spanish government has always ensured that the agreement with Rabat – in exchange for Spain aligning itself with the Moroccan position in the Sahara conflict – includes the reopening of the commercial customs with Melilla and the installation of a new one in Ceuta, but the director General of Customs of Morocco, Nabil Lakhdar, threw a jug of cold water on this claim on Friday by assuring that it was not possible to establish the necessary infrastructures at the border.

A few hours later, the high-ranking Moroccan official backtracked, declaring to Efe that it is “a political issue addressed by the Moroccan and Spanish Ministries of the Interior”, in application of the roadmap agreed between the two countries. “The Customs Administration will execute all the decisions made by the political authorities,” Lakhdar added. “When the two ministries agree on the aspects related to Ceuta and Melilla, we will apply them”, he concluded.

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