At the beginning of this week, Tuesday, June 16, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez revealed that Spain plans to include its two African enclaves in Ceuta and Melilla in the borderless Schengen area.
Her comments came after the Spanish Minister of State for the European Union, Juan Gonzalez Barba, said a week ago, on June 10, that the country’s government is studying the option of abolishing the special regime for Ceuta and Melilla, which was imposed on them. enclaves when Spain became part of the Schengen area in 1991.
If the plan goes into effect, Moroccans from the neighboring regions of Tetouan and Nador will need to obtain Schengen visas before visiting the enclaves, and European borders will be placed on the Moroccan borders rather than the ports where they are now.
Ceuta leader Juan Vivas has been asking for change for more than a year now due to the pressures of migration and its impact on certain services such as protection of minors, public health, education and the port.
Spanish authorities have only considered his idea now, after some 10,000 Moroccans swam to Ceuta or climbed the fence last month between May 17-19. About 8,000 Spanish soldiers were sent to Ceuta at that time in an effort by the authorities. to restore the system.
The events caused a diplomatic spat between the two countries after Spain accused Morocco of “turning a blind eye” to the case while returning nine out of ten migrants who had reached the enclaves.
European officials offered their support to the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, while European Council President Charles Michel tweeted on the matter, saying that “Spain’s borders are the borders of the European Union.”
Last week, Moroccan authorities accused Spain of trying to turn the political crisis between the two countries into a problem in the European Union by focusing on immigration and ignoring the root causes.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said in a press conference in Rabat that “Spain is trying to Europeanize the crisis to distract attention from the deep causes of the conflict.”
He said Spain “cannot fight separatism at home and encourage it in its neighbour,” referring to independence movements in Catalonia and other Spanish regions.
The country also withdrew its ambassador for consultations after the Spanish foreign minister informed the envoy of her “disgust” at what had happened.
Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish inhabited regions on mainland Africa, while the European country has a total of nine territories on the continent of Africa.