Spain and Morocco finalise preparations in Rabat for Operation Crossing the Strait 2022

News - 5.5.2022

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Isabel Goicoechea, and the Moroccan Director of Migration and Border Surveillance, Khalid Zerouali, chaired the meeting of the Spanish-Moroccan Joint Committee for the preparation of Operation Crossing the Strait (OPE) 2022 this Thursday in Rabat.

The meeting in Rabat served to finalise the details of the Special Civil Protection Plan for OPE 2022, which will be finalised in upcoming weeks, and which will include all the necessary aspects to develop the plan, with special attention this year to the health controls derived from the impact of COVID-19.

"Operation Crossing the Strait is an example of good coordination between neighbouring countries," said the undersecretary during her speech. The last meeting of the Joint Committee was held in Madrid on 21 May 2019.

Today's meeting is part of the process of implementing the roadmap drawn up at the meeting held last April between the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, and the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI.

16,000 National Police and Guardia Civil officers

Among other issues, the meeting addressed the operational arrangements that both countries are going to put in place to guarantee the development of Operation Crossing the Strait 2022, which will be similar to those established for OPE 2019. In this sense, Spain will set up a security operation for this edition with 15,995 National Police and Guardia Civil officers.

The measures being taken between Spain and Morocco are based on a number of factors, including the fluidity and security of transit, assistance to travellers and the prevention and protection of public health.

At the meeting chaired by Goicoechea and Zerouali, the fleet plans to be implemented to guarantee an adequate supply for the daily traffic of passengers and vehicles were also discussed. The reinforcements of troops to be mobilised in the ports to guarantee transit, both from Europe to Africa and vice versa, were also on the agenda.

Finally, both countries agreed to reinforce and coordinate information exchange channels to continue working on aspects such as the management of peak travel days, the possibility of exchanging tickets and other conditions for maritime crossings.

Europe's largest mechanism

Isabel Goicoechea recalled the logistical and security challenge posed by the OPE, with the movement by sea of more than three million people and more than seven hundred thousand vehicles over a period of three months. "It is the largest mechanism of its kind in Europe and one of the most important in the world," she explained.

The undersecretary also referred to the bilateral cooperation that has made it possible to successfully carry out Operation Crossing the Strait since 1986. "Beyond the data, OPE is an example of good coordination between neighbouring countries, whose excellent results in recent campaigns are the result of the great preparatory work of our technical teams," she stressed.

In addition to the Undersecretary, the meeting was attended by Leonardo Marcos, Director General of Civil Protection and Emergencies; Pere Navarro, Director General of Traffic; and José Antonio Rodríguez, Director General of Coordination and Studies, on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda was represented by Benito Núñez, Director General of the Merchant Navy, and Álvaro Rodríguez, President of Puertos del Estado; Fernando Carreras, Deputy Director General of Foreign Health of the Ministry of Health; and José Antonio Pacheco, Subdelegate of the Government in Cádiz, among others.

Meeting of the Steering Group on Migration

Rabat will tomorrow host the 20th meeting of the Spanish-Moroccan Steering Group on Migration, co-chaired by Jesús Javier Perea, Secretary of State for Migration, and the Moroccan Director of Migration and Border Surveillance, Khalid Zerouali. The meeting, which will also be attended by the Secretary of State for Security, Rafael Pérez, and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Global Affairs, Ángeles Moreno, will address bilateral collaboration between Spain and Morocco in managing migratory flows.

Non official translation