Two tunnels with no light at the end

A few days ago we were able to see again published several news about fixed link projects through the Strait of Gibraltar. In the first place, the heads of the Spanish Society of Studies for Fixed Communication across the Strait of Gibraltar have been meeting with the social and political agents of the region, the last of them the mayor of San Roque, to explain the status of the studies and seek the involvement of the population. The news, loaded with optimism, suggests that the infrastructure, which would allow passage by rail, fiber optics and power lines, could be executed between the 2030s and 2040s.

Secondly, Europa On He also picked up the news of a tunnel project between Gibraltar and Morocco in the framework of the improvement in diplomatic relations between Morocco and the United Kingdom in the context of Brexit.



Well, both projects present questions and issues of interest that call into question the future viability of these ambitious plans. And we are not referring to the many technical and financial problems of both infrastructures.

Let’s start with the second. It is my opinion that no connection with Morocco will be viable with Gibraltar without defining in advance the future status of legal relations with the EU. In the event that the agreement whose lines and principles were announced on the last day of 2020 is reached, the tunnel project is absolutely unfeasible without the authorization of Spain as the State responsible for Schengen border control in the territory.

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In relation to the project between Spain and Morocco in which significant financial resources have been allocated from various ministries, doubts arise about its geostrategic convenience for reasons related to control of the strait, immigration, fight against terrorism, impact on Spanish trade and agriculture. , etc. However, a key question is, if this work is completed within the indicated deadlines, how would the flow of people, goods, and vehicles be channeled if on the Spanish side the nineteenth-century railway infrastructures are absolutely inadequate to date and there is no serious, rigorous and credible modernization planning.

Obviously this project would greatly benefit Morocco, which has already largely done its homework, but would create an impassable bottleneck on the Spanish side. My humble approach is: Wouldn’t it be more sensible and practical, instead of burying so many millions of euros in the tunnel project, to use the resources for the railway and infrastructure development that connects the Campo de Gibraltar with the European networks? From the deep south, we need to get out of 19th century connections and get closer to the 21st century, if only slightly. Then let the tunnels come.

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