LISBON (Reuters) - Spain and Portugal announced a series of measures on Saturday to strengthen cross-border cooperation, including better access to health and social services for citizens living along their shared 1,200km (750-mile) border.
Following an annual summit in Guarda, Portugal, the prime ministers of both countries said a new identity card would allow people working on the other side of the border to access health services there.
The measures are aimed at helping 1.6 million Portuguese and 3.4 Spanish inhabitants along the border, which comprises some of the poorest districts in both countries.
At a press conference after the summit, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said ambulance services would operate across both countries so that patients could be served by the nearest vehicle, whether from Portugal or Spain.
Other measures expected include bilingual schools and a joint centre for combating fires. A full package will be announced by the end of the day on Saturday.
The border has remained open to workers and transport of goods between mid-March to July 1, despite the coronarivus pandemic. But it was closed to tourists, hurting local businesses reliant on tourism. [L8N2E826K]
"I am in Portugal every day. Everyone knows me," said Florencio Ramos Ramos from Spain who sells wild mushrooms in his shop in the tiny municipality of Salamanca.
"But we've always been a disadvantaged zone - both the Portuguese side, and the Spanish," he told Portuguese broadcaster RTP.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee)