MADRID - Spain is looking into ending a deal that allows visa-free crossing from Moroccan towns into Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, a government official said on Friday.
The move comes amid a row between the two countries over issues linked to Moroccan Sahara.
"The government is considering...scrapping the special regime," Juan Gonzalez Barba, junior minister for relations with the European Union, said on Thursday during a visit to Ceuta, according to the Foreign Ministry.
"The border controls would then move to the border with Morocco," he added.
For years, Moroccans from the towns surrounding the enclaves could enter without a visa, but required one to travel to continental Spain or the rest of Europe's border-free Schengen Area by sea or air.
The move would afftect hundreds Moroccans who cross the borders to either work in the enclaves or smuggle goods to Morocco.
Though that is still theoretically the case, currently the border has effectively been shut by Morocco since last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Morocco's foreign minister on Wednesday accused Spain of trying to turn a political crisis between the two countries into an EU problem by focusing on migration and ignoring the root causes.
The row blew up in April after Spain admitted Algerian-backed Polisario Front leader, Brahim Ghali, for medical treatment with a false identity and without informing Rabat.
Morocco then appeared to relax border controls with Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta on May 17, leading to an influx of at least 8,000 migrants.