Spain has traditionally commended its cooperation with Morocco on migration and security related issues.
Rabat – Evarist Bartolo, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Malta, has said that the European Union (EU) would vastly benefit from taking advantage of the Spain-Morocco expertise on migration management.
Speaking on Thursday, the Maltese top diplomat said that the EU can and should draw a lot of lessons from the cooperation and experience-sharing between Morocco and Spain to create “channels for legal immigration and decent wages.”
The official remarked on the Moroccan-Spanish exemplary cooperation during a press briefing following his meeting with Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
Bartolo also called for European aid to transit countries like Morocco, stressing that the reform of the EU migration policy should not only focus on the distribution of migrants arriving in the European territory.
He insisted the EU should instead focus on the source of the problem of migration.
For Bartolo, agreements with Afrcan countries “must be concluded to implement fair trade which generates employment and wealth so that young people do not lose their lives in the Sahara or in the Mediterranean.”
Statistics show that thousands of African migrants have died in the Meditarranean in recent years. Meanwhile, most experts and observers agree that the dire trend will only increase if Europe does not change both its migration policies and the way it engages African countries.
“In 2019, the number of deaths amounted to 1.9 thousand. However, the accurate number of deaths recorded in the Mediterranean Sea cannot be ascertained. Between 2014 and 2018, for instance, about 12 thousand people who drowned were never found,” according to the German database company Statista.
Morocco’s efforts to curb irregular migration
With Morocco having espoused a humanitarian approach to migration, the country’s security units routinely contribute to humanitarian rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, with regular patrols across Mediterranean coasts to rescue shipwrecked migrants.
The North African country is also continuously intensifying its efforts to abort irregular migration attempts and arrest suspects with links to human trafficking networks.
In 2019, Morocco aborted over 74,000 irregular migration attempts to Spain.
During his meeting with his Spanish counterpart, Bartolo warned that the COVID-19 pandemic will worsen the situation in Africa, pushing up to 27 million people into extreme poverty and create more migratory pressure towards Europe.
For her part, Spain’s top diplomat Gonzalez Laya also called for European “solidarity” on migration.
She noted that, as a much-used gateway to Europe, Spain wants the “whole of the EU to be concerned by a common answer to this question.”
Spain has repeatedly lauded its cooperation with Morocco on a wide-range of issues, mainly including security and migration.
In March, Laya expressed support for the “excellent” results of the Madrid-Rabat cooperation on migration management.
Gonzalez also stressed the importance of strengthening the existing channels of collaboration and adopting a “comprehensive strategy” to cut the numbers of irregular migrants entering Europe via Spain, emphasizing that it is a matter of common security.
The southern Mediterranean is of key importance to the stability of Spain and the EU, she argued.