Spanish enclave to request inclusion in EU customs union

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The Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta is due to request its inclusion in the European Customs Union.

9 January 2008

MADRID - The Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta, long a tax-free trading post between Morocco and Europe, is due to request its inclusion in the European Customs Union, a move that will solidify its economic and political ties to the EU, while undoubtedly triggering new tensions with Morocco, which lays claim to the city.

The step, outlined in a report financed by the Spanish Industry Ministry, suggests that integration into the customs union would allow Ceuta to change its "economic model." That will undoubtedly be necessary in 2012 when a free-trade agreement between the EU and Morocco goes into effect, removing the financial impetus behind the trade in everything from fridges to diapers, on which much of the city's economy is based. Melilla, Ceuta's sister city some 200 kilometres east along the North African coast, is expected to follow suit, ending the special status the cities received when Spain joined the EU in 1986.
However, the move has political motives as well as economic ones, not least by serving as a further argument against Moroccan claims. That, in turn, is likely to raise tensions with Rabat.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / I. CEMBRERO 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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