Land border control may be reintroduced for World Youth Day event

  • Lusa
  • 10 May 2023

The meeting between the Portuguese and Spanish ministers of Interior will take place in Lisbon. The closing of borders will be on the agenda for the presidency of the Council of the EU.

Portugal and Spain will examine on Friday the reinstatement of land border control during World Youth Day, the interior minister said on Wednesday, conceding that many pilgrims may arrive in Lisbon via Spain.

“I have a meeting on Friday with the Spanish interior minister to work out Spain’s agenda for the presidency of the Council of the European Union and naturally this issue [closing borders] will be addressed,” José Luís Carneiro told journalists.

The minister recalled that coordinating the security of World Youth Day (WYD), an event to be held in Lisbon in the first week of August and expected to attract around 1.5 million people, is the responsibility of the secretary-general of the Internal Security System (SSI).

The minister, who was speaking at the end of the ceremony marking the 112th anniversary of the National Republican Guard (GNR), said that there will be “dialogue with the Spanish interior minister”, recalling that Spain has also organised a WYD. The meeting between the two ministers will take place in Lisbon.

According to José Luís Carneiro, there has already been a meeting with the head of the Spanish police and that the Commander-General of the GNR has been in contact with his Spanish and European counterparts.

“We are also going to hear from the GNR commander-general, who is responsible for coordinating road traffic operations. We expect that many of the routes will be via Spanish airports, that is, flights will head for Spanish airports and then the route to Portugal will be by road,” he said, adding that as well as the opinion of the Spanish interior minister, the reinstatement of border control would also be assessed by the security forces.

José Luís Carneiro indicated that the GNR and PSP (Portuguese public security police) have been cooperating with the SSI secretary-general regarding the general security plan and the respective operational plans of each of the security forces, also highlighting the role of the National Civil Protection Emergency Authority (ANEPC).

Questioned if the security plan is already concluded, he referred to the SSI Secretary General, but with regard to the PSP, GNR and ANEPC “all availability has been placed in the preparation of the security plans of each of these forces.

The minister also said that “all human and material resources have been made available to the GNR, PSP and ANEPC”.

WYD will be held in Lisbon between August 1 and 6 and will be attended by Pope Francis.

In his speech during the ceremony, the general commander of the GNR, José Lopes dos Santos, also reported that the corporation will “plan and execute policing actions” during WYD throughout the country, especially in places where initiatives and activities associated with the event take place and, in particular, the shrine of Fatima.

The GNR will “support and assist the organization of pilgrims, monitor and control movements throughout the country, particularly accesses to the city of Lisbon. And if necessary implement special measures of control and surveillance of land and sea borders,” he said.

The military ceremony for the 112th anniversary of the National Republican Guard, which took place this morning near the Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon, was due to be presided over by the prime minister, António Costa.

The interior minister, questioned about António Costa’s absence, replied that the prime minister was not present for ” very significant reasons of a personal nature” and ” very sensitive reasons”.