After a 12 months of ready, the Col du Portillon reopened this Monday, January 31, in the Pyrenees Commingeoises. This border crossing level between France and Spain closed on January 6, 2021 by choice of Paris, formally for causes of safety, the struggle in opposition to terrorism and in opposition to unlawful immigration. This go in the south of Haute-Garonne is much from being the busiest in the Pyrenean chain, however regionally helpful, each for the inhabitants of the valley of Luchon on the French aspect, and people of the Spanish Val d’Aran. This imposed closure was due to this fact very symbolic. Moreover, the elected officers on each side of the border had mobilized to demand the lifting of the dam.
“For us it’s a miracle” rejoices Patrice Armengol, the French supervisor of Aran Park, the Spanish animal park, on the slopes of the go. He often works with 50% Spanish clients, and 50% French. But the skilled regrets the lack of readability of the French authorities in current months: “the reopening was done like the closing, without any explanation“.
Economic relations, however not solely
This reopening is due to this fact a reduction for the Commingeois as for the Aranese. Like these Luchonnais seated in a Spanish restaurant in Bossòst, the village at the foot of the go: “It’s great” reacts Bernard. “We all the time undergo the Portillon, however we got here to Spain so much much less because it was closed“provides Sylvia.
Knowing that the motive for the closure, anti-terrorism, nobody actually understood it. Silvia Puertolas, the supervisor of the restaurant in entrance of the Bossòst church, sees above all the affect on Franco-Spanish exchanges. On the financial system, however not solely: “We have many friends who live in France. And we’ve had a relationship for years. With the French, we have more commercial exchanges, but also proximity. And the reverse is true“.
Same feeling for Christophe Deschamps, on the French aspect. He retains a mattress and breakfast in Luchon, and chairs the affiliation of merchants: “In fact, they are our brothers! It’s the valley next door. For us, we are as much Aranese as Luchonnais, and Luchonnais as Aranais. We have the same economic life, almost. The French go shopping in Spain, and the Spaniards come to shop in France“.
They are our brothers!
According to him Christophe Deschamps, the Luchon golf course has misplaced 90% of its clientele, as a result of the Spanish regulars haven’t made the detour in current months. Spaniards who can even be capable to return extra simply to the ski resorts of Superbagnères and Peyragudes. It can be a reduction for some Spanish college students, educated at the Lycée de Luchon.
What evaluation on the struggle in opposition to terrorism?
Officially, the go has due to this fact been closed for safety causes: to stop the passage of terrorists or migrants. But on each side of the border, it didn’t persuade anybody. Patrice Armengol believes that those that wish to go “will be passed on foot, by bicycle, or by motorbike“, between the concrete boundaries positioned 1 kilometer from the summit, on the French aspect. Not to say the trails in the mountains.
The mayor of Bossost, Amador Marques, may be very indignant with France : “There is no antecedent that justifies this blockade. It was an unfair decision. Especially since we are in the European Union!“. The elected Aranese may even see on this rest a hyperlink with the French presidency of the European Union. But by closing in current months, Paris might have needed to place strain on Madrid, judging that Spain didn’t decelerate migrants sufficient.
In any case, the closure was incomprehensible to Alain Puente, the president of the Community of Municipalities of the Pyrenees Haut Garonne: “what seemed surprising to us was that 15 kilometers away, the border at Fos (Haute-Garonne) was continuously open. Because effectively, all Franco-Spanish truck traffic transits on this axis. But without there being a lot of physical controls“.
The prefecture of Haute-Garonne guarantees extra controls, at the two border factors (Portillon and Fos). As for the Spanish nationwide police, it was seen this Monday, January 31 at the roundabout at the entrance to Bossost. Obligatory passage level, whether or not you wish to take the Portillon, or the nationwide highway.