Ceuta and Melilla's borders with Morocco will reopen on 17 May

This was confirmed by the Spanish Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska
File photo of the border between the Moroccan town of Fnideq and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta

AFP/FADEL SENNA  -   File photo of the border between the Moroccan town of Fnideq and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta

There is already a date for the reopening of the borders of Ceuta and Melilla with Morocco. The land crossings between the Spanish autonomous cities and Moroccan territory will reopen on 17 May. 

The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, in an act in which he presided over the events marking the 178th anniversary of the creation of the Civil Guard, announced this reopening of borders for next Tuesday, just when it will be almost a year since the entry of thousands of irregular migrants through Ceuta during the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco, which was triggered by the entry of Brahim Ghali into Spanish territory more than a year ago to be treated for a respiratory condition in a hospital in Logroño. 

The Alawi kingdom criticised Spain for failing to provide adequate information on the reception of the Polisario Front leader and for not cooperating despite being considered a partner and ally. This episode was followed by others, such as the illegal entry of migrants from Morocco and the withdrawal of the Moroccan ambassador from Madrid. 

Fernando Grande-Marlaska will sign this week the ministerial order on borders that will modify the one that had kept these crossings closed since March 2020, when the world was suffering the harsh health crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus, as reported by the newspaper La Vanguardia. 

Fotografía de archivo en el enclave español de Ceuta
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Archive photo in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta

This new announcement shows that the new diplomatic stage between Spain and Morocco, opened after the normalisation of relations that took place thanks to the Spanish gesture of recognising the Moroccan formula of broad autonomy for Western Sahara under the sovereignty of the Alaouite kingdom as the "most serious, credible and realistic", all within the framework of the resolutions of the United Nations Organisation, and also thanks to the invitation extended by King Mohammed VI to the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to receive him in Rabat in the middle of Ramadan as a friendly gesture, is continuing to develop fully. 

This opening of borders will take place just a month before the start of Operation Marhaba in June, when hundreds of thousands of citizens return to Morocco and North Africa from various points, mainly in Europe, to enjoy the summer season.

With regard to the border crossings, the Spanish Minister of the Interior indicated that the crossings of El Tarajal, in Ceuta, and Beni Enzar, in Melilla, will be opened initially, from where European Union residents and those authorised to move within the Schengen area will be able to enter Spanish territory. In both categories, in order to enter Ceuta and Melilla, it will be essential to meet the health requirements set by the Ministry of Health and also the European Union's ruling on the COVID-19 health crisis.

Until 31 May, legally recognised cross-border workers will not be able to enter Spanish territory, as indicated by the Ministry of the Interior. 

Vista general de Ceuta
AFP/FADEL SENNA - General view of Ceuta

This reopening comes after the work carried out by the Spanish-Moroccan groups that have been working to govern the new border situation between Spain and Morocco. The process will continue to develop gradually, and subsequently the next categories of people and goods that will be able to enter Ceuta and Melilla through the border with Morocco will be determined, as reported by the EFE news agency. 

On the occasion of this border reopening, the Spanish Interior Ministry has reinforced police forces in both Ceuta and Melilla to guarantee security in the area. 

Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska stated that the reopening is the result of the bilateral work carried out with the Moroccan authorities within the framework of the roadmap agreed by King Mohamed VI and Pedro Sánchez during their meeting in Rabat.