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Morocco still does not give the green light to the opening of customs in Ceuta and Melilla almost two years after the agreement

The Alawite kingdom has been alleging technical problems since December while Spain assures that it already has everything ready.

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Morocco still does not give the green light to the opening of customs in Ceuta and Melilla almost two years after the agreement

The Alawite kingdom has been alleging technical problems since December while Spain assures that it already has everything ready


Morocco has not yet given its approval to the opening of customs in Ceuta and Melilla. On the Spanish side, the Government assures that it has everything ready to open immediately, but the Alawite kingdom cites technical problems that prevent it from doing so for the moment and has avoided giving a deadline to have them resolved.

The reopening of the Melilla customs office, closed unilaterally by Morocco in the summer of 2018, and the opening of a new one in Ceuta, where it had not existed to date, was the highlight of the roadmap they drew up ago. almost two years for the two governments to leave the diplomatic crisis behind.

The joint declaration of April 7, 2022 after the meeting between the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and King Mohamed VI states in its third point that "the full normalization of the circulation of people and goods will be restored in an orderly manner." , including appropriate customs and people control devices at land and sea level."

In the press conference he offered that same day, Sánchez clarified that this meant the reopening of the Melilla customs office and the creation of one in Ceuta. The Government highlighted the importance of this gesture, since it represented recognition by Morocco of the Spanishness of both autonomous cities, given that there are only customs with other countries.

However, the fact that no specific deadlines were set and that Morocco had not publicly confirmed that it was going to proceed under these terms generated some uncertainty, which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José, was responsible for dissipating in September 2022. Manuel Albares, and his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita. Both announced that the opening would occur in January 2023.

However, what occurred on January 27, 2023 was a first pilot test of a commercial expedition from both autonomous cities to Moroccan territory. The exercise occurred less than a week before the High Level Meeting (RAN) on February 1 and 2, from which a calendar for its total opening was released that was not made public.

This first test would be followed by two more, one on February 24, with new passages of goods from Ceuta and Melilla to the neighboring country, and another on May 26, in this case also with entry of goods into the two autonomous cities from their territory. Moroccan. After that, the early elections in Spain and the delay in the inauguration of the Government left the issue in suspense.

Until in December Albares traveled to Rabat to meet with Burita. Then, the Foreign Minister assured that on the Spanish side "everything was ready" so that customs could open, while his Moroccan counterpart stated that Morocco still had some technical issues to resolve.

However, and this is what the Spanish Government has been clinging to, Burita stressed that on the Moroccan side all the commitments included in the joint declaration of April 7, 2022 "will be executed and fulfilled." Thus, he pointed out that it is not a problem of commitment or politics but of "technical implementation" on which the experts are working and expressed his confidence that "in the coming months" "this common objective" can be achieved.

A similar message was the one that the President of the Government received during his long-awaited audience with Mohamed VI on February 21 in Rabat, two months after Albares' visit to the Alawite capital.

Sánchez, who also met with the Moroccan Prime Minister, Aziz Ajanuch, during his visit, indicated to the press at the end of it that Morocco was still trying to solve its technical problems, which have not been clarified, and he seemed confident that "soon" there will be significant progress on this issue, since Rabat has no legal or political problems.

Meanwhile, in the two autonomous cities they wait with some nervousness for the opening of customs to be completed as soon as possible, particularly in Melilla where the previous infrastructure already existed and it is not understood why it is taking so long.

But in both Ceuta and Melilla, not only is the issue of customs of concern, but there is also unrest with Morocco because it is failing to comply with the traveler regime. Both autonomous governments have denounced that the Alawite kingdom prevents its citizens from entering Moroccan territory with products acquired in both Spanish enclaves in North Africa, while it does allow Spaniards to cross into both with goods acquired in Morocco.