The Strait of Gibraltar tunnel megaproject is one of the few engineering projects in the world with the capacity to change the geopolitical order and relations between Europe and Africa. Moroccan state media SNRTNews reported that studies have indicated the possibility of building a railway linking Madrid and Casablanca in just five and a half hours. This will mean a 180-degree turn in the commercial relations between Spain and Morocco, which are presented as the gateway from Europe to Africa (Spain) and the gateway from Africa to Europe (Morocco).
According to studies carried out in this field, 'the current high-speed railway line in both Morocco and Spain is expected to significantly reduce travel time compared to regular trains', says the report. The report also cites data from the National Company for the Study of the Strait of Gibraltar, which indicates that the project could provide an adequate rail connection between the two cities.
The tunnel of some 38 kilometres that would link Tangier and Tarifa is still only a concept four decades after the idea of linking the two continents was first mooted. The tunnel would reach a maximum depth of 475 metres with a length of 27 kilometres when it opens in 2030. The project to build a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar was revived, as announced in February by the Spanish media La Razón. Raquel Sánchez, Spain's transport minister, is also quoted in the report as saying that both nations will push ahead with studies of projects planned since 1979.
According to Sánchez, the project is of strategic importance for Europe, Africa and both Spain and Morocco. When Spain decided to back Morocco's Autonomy Plan for Western Sahara, diplomatic relations between the two countries improved and revived plans to take the project to a more advanced stage, and should continue to foster their connections on all fronts.
The Madrid-Casablanca link-up project was mentioned as they celebrated FIFA's announcement that Spain, Morocco and Portugal will host the 2030 World Cup. The international competition is expected to attract millions of spectators from around the world. Media reports said the research would determine the "appropriate technology" for tunnelling, citing company data that was only available for the Strait studies.
Efforts to reopen the tunnel in April were stepped up by Spain and Morocco, which reaffirmed their commitment. In a meeting with Morocco's Minister of Equipment, Nizar Baraka, the Spanish Minister of Transport reaffirmed her nation's commitment. "The project for a fixed link through the Strait of Gibraltar, which we launched in 1981, is being reactivated in this new stage, hand in hand," said the speaker.
King Hassan II of Morocco and King Juan Carlos I of Spain agreed to work on the development of the project in accordance with their commitment in the Spanish-Moroccan Joint Declaration of 16 June 1979 in Fez. It is thus planned to launch it and to strengthen bilateral ties between Africa and Europe.