"La Línea needs a special taxation and a differentiated regime for workers in Gibraltar."

The mayor of La Línea defends the major urban transformation projects already carried out and those planned to improve the city. He calls for more support from the Regional Government and the Central Government without abandoning the demand for the city's autonomy. Becoming the key to the government in the Provincial Council again is crucial for La Línea 100x100.

Juan Franco, the mayor of La Línea, is running for his third term after becoming one of the most voted for mayors in Spain in 2019. He advocates for a differentiated treatment through an autonomous city or any other figure that responds to the singularity of the city, heavily conditioned by its proximity to Gibraltar.

As his term comes to an end, he is quite satisfied with the work done by his team, especially considering the difficult starting point when they entered the government in 2015. They managed to achieve economic stability and worked on improving public services. In this term, they laid the foundation for the city's recovery with an impressive package of public works that includes completed, ongoing, and planned projects. The main demand from citizens on a daily basis is usually related to minor issues like a tree that needs pruning, a pothole in front of their house, or the sewage system. The mayor emphasises the importance of listening to the people and being close to them.

Regarding the relationship with the Andalusian government, Franco acknowledges the positive impact of the first four years of Juanma Moreno's administration but emphasises the need for more support, particularly in the critical issue of the El Higuerón road's expansion. He believes that the road's expansion is essential for the municipality's development, with a budget of 11 or 12 million euros that are negligible compared to the 40,000 million managed by the Andalusian government.

I say this, above all, regarding the aid for Brexit. Have they arrived and have they been enough?

We appreciate the document that was made with measures to alleviate Brexit, but it included measures such as building a maternity ward that has nothing to do with it. Beyond focusing on specific points, I think it should have been approached from a more global perspective. To fight against the effects of Brexit, a large social package should be promoted, which has not been done, with all administrations and budget allocation to tackle situations that arise here with a social root. There are certain neighbourhoods with ratios that are incomprehensible, with rates of school dropouts, school failure, low levels of education or soaring youth unemployment. We have two options, either we leave them to their fate, which is the feeling I have, or we undertake a project that will bear fruit in 15 or 20 years. And I think that is the only way, along with investments for this city to have resources to develop on its own.

Regarding Brexit, are you worried about the lack of an agreement on Gibraltar?

Of the 70,000 inhabitants of the city, around 11,000 work in Gibraltar, of which around 7,000 are Spanish and around 4,000 are foreigners. Plus their families. Any alteration in that ecosystem affects us directly. I see a willingness to seek an agreement. If not, they wouldn't be sitting seven years later. But the truth is that it still hasn't arrived.

And does that "dead calm" affect the arrival of investors?

If the entrepreneur wants to invest, they will do whatever it takes. As an example, the marina with a company from Gibraltar and an investment underway of 10 to 12 million. Spain has great legal certainty. It is different whether it is more or less convenient due to taxes.

And going back to the state administrations, have you felt supported by the central government in such a complex scenario?

No. The Spanish government approved a security plan, of which I have a strictly positive assessment in its subject matter, but it does not address the causes. Morocco is still 18 kilometres away, being the world's leading producer of hashish. We have a layer of population captured by drug trafficking mafias who, when they serve their sentences, leave without knowing how to do anything because they have been delinquent their whole lives. We need a social plan with a 15- or 20-year view to eradicate this problem from the root. Drug trafficking will continue to exist as long as there is consumption in Europe and as long as Morocco continues to produce hashish. A special plan was announced in November 2018, full of grandiose figures that have not been practically applied in many cases. For La Línea, it committed a fifth court, which we already have. And now a reform of the Campamento road is announced that is going to strangle the main entrance to the municipality. They will be very happy in San Roque, but we are not."

Have you conveyed this dissatisfaction to the government?

To the Minister of Foreign Affairs and anyone who walks through the door. We are tired of sending the Strategic Plan for Boosting and Growing the city that was developed in 2018, which the MP for Cadiz in Congress obviously knows about, as her party voted in favor of it.