Spain is planning to include its African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the borderless Schengen Area, the Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez revealed at the beginning of this week, on Tuesday, June 16.
Her statements came after the Spanish Secretary of State for the European Union, Juan González-Barba said a week ago, on June 10, that the country’s government is mulling the option of cancelling the special regime for Ceuta and Melilla, which was impost on these enclaves when Spain became part of the Schengen Area in 1991.
If the plan comes into effect, Moroccans from the neighbouring regions of Tetouan and Nador would need to obtain Schengen visas before visiting the enclaves, and the European borders would be placed at the Moroccan border instead of at the ports where they are now.
Ceuta leader Juan Vivas has been requesting the change for more than a year now due to the migratory pressure and its impact on certain services such as protection of minors, public health, education and the port.
His idea has been considered by the Spanish authorities only now, after around 10,000 Moroccans swam into Ceuta or climbed over the fence last month between May 17 and 19. Around 8,000 Spanish troops have been sent to Ceuta at the time in a bid of the authorities to restore order.
The events have caused a diplomatic spat between the two countries after Spain accused Morocco of “turning a blind eye” on the issue while it sent back nine out of ten migrants reaching the enclaves.
European officials have offered their support to Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, while the European Council President Charles Michel tweeted on the matter, saying that “Spain’s borders are the European Union’s borders.”
Last week, Moroccan authorities accused Spain of trying to turn the political crisis between the two countries into an EU problem by focusing on migration and ignoring the root causes.
“Spain tries to Europeanise the crisis in order to derail attention away from the deep causes of the dispute,” the Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita said in a news conference in Rabat.
Spain “cannot fight separatism at home and encourage it in its neighbour,” he said, referring to independence movements in Catalonia and other Spanish regions.
The country has also withdrawn its ambassador for consultations after Spain’s Foreign minister told the envoy of her “disgust” at what had happened.
Ceuta and Melilla are two populated Spanish territories on mainland Africa, while the European country has a total of nineterritories in the continent of Africa.
Source: SchengenVisaInfo News