Motorists and cyclists caught in the traffic queues at the border last month. :: A. B.
Frontier workers can apply for passes enabling them to jump the lengthy queues at the Spanish/Gibraltar border, it was announced this week.
Spanish government chiefs said the fast track pass can be used by workers of all nationalities who work in Gibraltar and live in Spain.
But the move has been criticised as discriminatory by many who say tourists and Gibraltarians will still have to queue to enter or leave the Rock.
The passes can also be used by Gibraltarians who work in Spain.
However, on the Spanish side of the border, only those living in the Campo de Gibraltar area can apply for a pass - meaning that anyone commuting from towns such as Estepona or Marbella will not be able to apply.
It’s estimated that around 10,000 workers cross the border from Spain into Gibraltar every day. Those applying for the passes will have to formally register with the Spanish tax authorities.
Following the announcement from Madrid, a spokesman from the Government of Gibraltar said that they are currently in close discussion with their legal advisors and the UK government - and will comment further once they have analysed the plans.
However, a spokesman for No 6, said: “The Government considers that any proposed solution towards a free-flowing frontier must also encompass EU nationals and others who are not workers, like tourists and residents on both sides, whose right to freedom of movement continues to be undermined by Spain.
“The reality is that the Spanish authorities make life difficult for people and vehicles crossing the border for political reasons and because they want to. All that Madrid has to do is to improve the flow rate of cars and persons and operate proper red and green channels. This alone will reduce waiting times to cross the frontier.”
Anne-Marie Struggles, Chairperson for Defenders of Gibraltar, added: “The Defenders of Gibraltar would like to be absolutely clear in our complete rejection of Spain’s latest brainwave regarding the issuing of passes for cross-frontier workers. We believe that the frontier pass system would be inherently discriminatory towards Gibraltarians and other nationalities residing in Gibraltar, as well as a dubious cover for gaining information on individuals who cross that frontier.”
She added, “Whilst there would be some obvious benefits to the pass system, specifically for Spanish-based frontier workers, the issue of causing frontier delays would then be isolated only to Gibraltarians, locals, our economy and of course our tourism trade. In effect, our agreeing to such a system would be tantamount to consent to be punished in isolation.”
The new pass system is expected to cost around 5.3 million euros and will use bar code readers and turnstiles to check the passes.
Last week Gibraltar government officials released data from a study that provided ‘proof’ that the queues at the border are being deliberately generated by the Spanish authorities.
Anyone affected by the border queues is advised to email their complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.