Spain’s Tax Administration Agency announced on Tuesday it will spend €5.3 million ($7.1M) on 12 barcode readers and a ‘fast’ lane for workers who endure painstaking traffic jams every time they cross Spain’s border with Gibraltar.
The 12 barcode readers and turnstiles will replace the border guard checking pedestrians’ IDs, a move the Spanish government hopes will speed up the process considerably.
Six thousand Spanish workers in Gibraltar , a fifth of the average 30,000 people who cross over every day, will be able to benefit from the road privileges “before the summer of 2015”.
Gibraltarians who work in Spain will also be able to apply for the pass in the same way as Spaniards: by presenting residency documents and work contracts to Spain’s Customs Office.
The pass will have to be renewed on an annual basis and under EU law workers will have to declare not to carry declarable goods across the border at any time.
While the road works are being carried out, the Spanish Government’s daily Congressional Report (BOE) has explained that ‘border workers’ will be allowed to use the red lane, meant for people who have goods to declare, given that the green lane is usually more congested by drivers who don’t have anything to declare.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has expressed his disapproval at the news, arguing that “any proposed solution aimed at improving the free border movement must include EU citizens and other nationalities that aren’t workers, such as tourists and residents of either side”.
“Their right to free movement is being undermined by Spain,” Picardo was quoted as saying in Spain's 20 minutos newspaper.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister concluded that Spain “complicates transit for political reasons and arbitrarily” and that “the only thing Madrid should do is improve the flow of cars and people by using the red and green lanes efficiently”.
Although Gibraltar is part of the EU, it isn’t part of the Schengen Area or EU Customs, meaning non-EU citizens have to apply for a separate visa from that required for Spain and pay a substantial fee.