Morocco has postponed until after the High Level Meeting (RAN) to be held in Rabat on February 1 and 2 the opening of the commercial customs of Ceuta and Melilla.
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, had repeatedly announced that the land passage of goods would take place "in January", before the bilateral summit in Rabat, as provided for in the Spanish-Moroccan road map agreed on 7 April on the occasion of the meeting between President Pedro Sánchez and Mohamed VI.
Sources from the Tax Agency indicated to EL PAÍS 10 days ago that, on the Spanish side, everything was ready to open them "at any time", and from other government sources a specific day was indicated: January 25, that is, Wednesday .
However, on Tuesday, a day after a Spanish-Moroccan technical commission met, Albares no longer spoke of the full opening of customs, but of a "first step of goods" before the high-level meeting.
That is what took place this Friday at the Ceuta border: a pilot and experimental test.
A van loaded with personal hygiene products has crossed into Morocco through the El Tarajal pass.
The test was attended by the Government delegate in Ceuta, Rafael García, and the highest officials of customs and the Tax Agency in the city, but not the media, who had not been previously informed
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released some statements by García this Friday afternoon in which he assures that it is the "first step" for Ceuta to have a customs office, "something unprecedented to date and that represents a historic milestone in the relations between the two countries.
According to García, this pilot test will allow us to know the response capacity of the two countries and the needs in terms of personnel and infrastructure, to adapt "as soon as possible" to "a new normality", which will definitively leave behind the so-called
that governed the commercial relations of Ceuta with its Moroccan environment.
The test this Friday will not continue for the moment, since its results will be taken to the summit next week in Rabat and it will be there, according to García, where "a calendar will be designed that allows trade between the two countries with all the guarantee".
The opening of customs is thus pending the summit that will bring together the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, and his Moroccan counterpart, Aziz Ajanuch, with a dozen ministers from both governments, among whom there will be none from United We Can.
Ceuta has never had a customs office with Morocco, so the facilities had to be created, which at the moment are reduced to a prefabricated office of the Tax Agency on the border and a sanitary control point for fresh products in the port.
On the other hand, Melilla has customs offices at the Beni Enzar pass (although the legal passage of goods was cut off without prior notice by Morocco in August 2018), so it has not needed to carry out works on the border.
A carrier with a load of aluminum was the first to cross it this Friday,
Although Foreign Affairs has assured that "the test for the commercial opening of the customs of Ceuta and Melilla has concluded successfully", there is no date for the ordinary transit of merchandise to begin, so this matter will be on the table of the meeting of high level, when Spain intended to reach it with the subject already overcome.
Diplomatic sources have stressed that, although it has been tested, the Moroccan authorities have carried out their own controls on the other side of the border, which means that customs already exists, has worked and has been recognized by both parties.
Regarding the transit of people, on May 17 the passage between Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco was reopened for citizens of the EU and the Schengen area;
and on the 31st of the same month, for legalized cross-border workers.
But the largest crossing of travelers occurred with Operation Strait Passage which, after two years of suspension, resumed in the summer.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits
I'm already a subscriber