Just days after world governments met in Marrakech to sign a “landmark” agreement to work out an international framework to come to terms with irregular migration, Brussels has reaffirmed its commitment to the success of Rabat’s migration-related efforts.
A statement published yesterday by the European Commission’s website announced that the European body will pledge a further €148 million to financially assist Morocco on the migration front.
“The EU is intensifying its support to Morocco to address irregular migration in response to increased migratory pressure along the Western Mediterranean Route,” read part of the announcement.
The statement continued: “The additional funding adopted under the EU emergency Trust Fund for Africa will bring the overall migration-related assistance to Morocco to €148 million in 2018. It will help step up the fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings, including through reinforced integrated border management.”
As part of the Brussels-Rabat strategic collaboration on a host of issues, including particularly border management and the monitoring of migratory routes, the allocated funds will not only be used to combat human trafficking and smugglers’ networks.
According to EU parliamentarians, the body’s latest financial assistance will also entail providing improved living conditions to “vulnerable migrants.”
Part of the funds will help create programs to strengthen migration-related civil society in Morocco and “create new opportunities for job creation and sustainable development.”
Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, asserted that “Morocco is a key partner” in Europe’s bid to devise a working migration policy. For Hahn, Brussels and Rabat need a collaborative framework to “tackle the current challenge.”
He explained: “together we can fight smugglers, save lives, and support people in need. But our cooperation goes far beyond migration: we are working to strengthen our partnership via socio-economic development, decentralization and integration of the youth – to the benefit of the people in Morocco and in Europe.”
For his part, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, highlighted the increasing pressure Morocco is facing as more and more migrants resort to using the Mediterranean route to cross to Europe.
But in addition to helping Morocco mitigate the consequences of the waves of migrants using its territory and sea coasts, Avramopoulos noted, the EU-Morocco migration cooperation also entails improving living conditions in Morocco and [possibly] migrant’s countries of origin to reduce the number of irregular migration attempts.
Europe’s commitment to its partnership with Rabat echoes Morocco’s position.
Despite receiving harsh criticism for supposedly bowing to European pressure in its recent toughening on irregular migration network, Morocco has steadily said that it will not let its coastal cities fall prey to smuggling and human trafficking networks.
While adamant about its sovereignty, Rabat has also acknowledged the importance of its partnership with Europe.
“Our relationship with the EU is a global one. It’s not based on one issue. We are neighbors. Morocco is the closest African country to Europe. It’s a relation of geography; it’s a relation of history. For 50 years we are engaged in agreements with the EU. We have 4 million Moroccans living in Europe. We have security cooperation. We have economic cooperation,” foreign affairs minister Nasser Bourita said in a recent interview.
Morocco will receive the newly pledged fund by the end of this year.