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Cross-border association suggests separate channels for passport stamps

Border fluidity remains normal pending the outcome of treaty talks. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

A cross-border association has called for separate channels at the frontier for non-EU nationals and people who are not resident in Gibraltar, in a bid to address the serious delays being experienced at the crossing.

Last week Spain began wet-stamping the passports of non-EU nationals crossing the border, in line with Schengen rules following the UK and Gibraltar’s departure from the EU.

Gibraltar residents and EU nationals were largely excluded from the need for stamping, but were nonetheless caught up in the delays as everyone moved through the same channels.

Now, the Asociación Transfronteriza Educativa, Deportive Y Social [ATEDES], a group established last December that brings together people from both sides of the border, said authorities should consider separating those who require a stamp in their passport from those who do not.

“We are conscious that neither the European Union, nor citizens, nor the Government of Gibraltar are responsible for Brexit, but it is an objective fact that this regrettable decision taken a few years ago impacts negatively on our daily life with this kind of issue,” the group said in a statement.

“We know that the principle of reciprocity is being followed at all times by the authorities on both sides of the fence, and that the long queues are the result of controls on people who are not citizens of the European Union or Gibraltar.”

“We understand that officers on both sides of the fence are just doing their job in a constructive manner, but we would urge their political and organisational leaders to implement a separate channel for pedestrians and vehicles for people who are not EU or Gibraltar citizens, much as happens in other parts of the world with similar situations.”

The group said it believed its suggestion was “constructive, simple and useful” and urged the authorities to implement it as soon as possible.

ATEDES was set up last year to highlight the issues faced by people who crossed the border regularly for educational, cultural and sporting reasons, including many parents and children.

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