Spain already has everything ready, according to Albares, but the Moroccan Government alleges technical reasons for not taking the step.


The Melilla customs office, which Morocco unilaterally closed in August 2018, and the newly created Ceuta customs office, are still not in operation a year after the High Level Meeting (RAN) held with Morocco and almost two years after The compromise was reached during the meeting between the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and King Mohamed VI.

From that meeting, held on April 7, 2022, a roadmap came out that included the opening of customs, including in Ceuta, where it has never existed, and a joint statement came out of the RAN in which both governments reaffirmed “their commitment to the full normalization of the movement of people and goods in an orderly manner, including appropriate customs and people control devices at land and sea level.”

By then, a first pilot test at customs had already been carried out a few days before, and the commitment was to continue with said tests according to an “agreed schedule” that has not been made public at any time.

After that, a second one took place at the end of that month and the last one was held on May 26. Then, for the first time, goods were also shipped from Morocco, since in the previous two the shipments had been made from Spain.

The early elections and the time that the Government was in office apparently paralyzed the entire process, with no news regarding the opening of customs until in mid-December when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, traveled to Rabat to meet with his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita, in what was his first trip outside the legislature.

Then, after a long meeting between the two, Albares assured that on the Spanish side “everything is ready” so that customs can begin to function immediately and it is not necessary to carry out more pilot tests, but the Moroccan minister clarified that for his part there was a series of technical issues that they still wanted to resolve.

However, Burita made it clear that Morocco is committed to complying with each and every point of the 2022 joint declaration and expressed confidence that “in the coming months” “this common objective” can be achieved.

Since then there has been no news and when last Monday during his appearance in the Congressional Commission the PP spokesperson, Carlos Floriano, raised the issue that customs are still closed, Albares defended himself by emphasizing that there was never a customs office in Ceuta and the PP He had not complained and neither did he when Morocco unilaterally closed Melilla in 2018.

Sánchez’s pending visit to Rabat has not yet been finalized either. The President of the Government was not received a year ago by Mohamed VI, coinciding with his attendance at the RAN. So, Moncloa downplayed this fact because before the meeting there was a phone call between the president and the Alawite monarch.

In it, the king of Morocco, who at that time was out of the country, called on Sánchez to make “an official visit soon”, about which nothing has been heard again. Mohamed VI spends long periods outside of Morocco and the President of the Government was in office until mid-November, but now there should a priori be no impediments for this visit to take place, beyond the fact that it has to be the king who extends his invitation.

During the ambassadors’ conference held in early January, the president defended the “new chapter in the bilateral relationship” with Morocco. “I think we have achieved an enormous degree of solidity and confidence that we must continue to consolidate,” he said.

Meanwhile, just a week ago the ambassador to Morocco was replaced. After more than eight years in office, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner will be replaced by Enrique Ojeda, a diplomat close to the PSOE and who until now was director of the Casa de América.