Migration and climate action are two key areas of cooperation between Morocco and Europe.
Rabat – EU Commissioner for the European Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy, Oliver Varhelyi, said on Tuesday that Morocco is a “credible partner of the European Union.”
During a press conference in Rabat with the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, the commissioner highlighted Morocco’s role in regional migration management.
He stressed the importance of EU support for Morocco in managing the security and economic burden it faces as it neighbors the only European land border on African soil.
Managing migration “is a common task that must be tackled together. Here, too, Morocco is in the lead, it is a credible and sensitive partner in this problem,” he said, expressing his gratitude for Morocco’s efforts.
Given Morocco’s position as a credible partner of Europe, the two parties must establish a precise plan for developing economic ties, Varhelyi continued. He is confident that Morocco and the EU have a clear path forward, adding that plans for their economic partnership should be in motion in the spring of 2021.
Varhelyi said his objective in visiting Rabat is to determine the joint projects Morocco and the EU should implement to promote both economies.
The European commissioner added that Morocco “has made great strides” in managing the COVID-19 crisis. “If I compare Morocco’s results with the countries of the region, or even with certain Member States of the European Union, it is a performance to be commended,” he underlined.
There is no solution to this health crisis for Europe without the neighborhood policy, Varhelyi argued. Morocco and the EU are mapping out post-COVID-19 initiatives to revive their economies “so that they come out even stronger after this ordeal.”
Bourita calls for evolution of European Neighborhood Policy
During the same press briefing, Morocco’s foreign minister offered a compelling call for the evolution of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP).
The EU first introduced the ENP in 2003 with the view to promote prosperity, stability, and security and prevent division within the EU’s neighbors. The foreign relations scheme includes 16 partners throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as well as states bordering Turkey and Eastern Europe.
Nasser Bourita said Tuesday that while the ENP remains relevant 17 years after its launch, “it is time for it also to evolve, in particular to transcend pure financial logic, to focus on the horizon of ‘everything except institutions’ and to rehabilitate its guiding principles, namely differentiation, complementarity, solidarity, ownership and ‘more for more.’”
The ENP should serve as a guideline for all the structures of the EU, Bourita argued. The policy promotes greater involvement of Global South countries in the European “decision shaping” that concerns them. The ENP also seeks to create synergies with the bilateral, regional, and bicontinental frameworks, Bourita added, noting UfM, 5 + 5, and EU-Africa.
Morocco’s fruitful partnership with the EU
Discussing Morocco’s ties with the EU, Bourita reaffirmed Rabat’s commitment to consolidate a “solid, innovative and lasting” partnership across the Mediterranean.
“The Morocco-EU partnership is doing better, it is more responsive, more pragmatic, and in line with the challenges of the moment,” he said.
“Our partnership is also distinguished by the solidarity that permeates it, and which goes in both directions,” the Moroccan minister continued. He emphasized the two parties’ joint efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic on both the European and African levels as an example of this transcendent solidarity.
Bourita went on to detail the four key areas around which the Morocco-EU partnership revolves: Politics and security, economics and society, shared knowledge, and shared values. He added that Morocco-EU ties also focus on two transversal axes concerning the environment and migration.
Representatives of the EU and Morocco laid out these strategic areas and axes on June 27, 2019. During a meeting of the Association Council, the two parties signed a joint declaration expressing mutual interest in giving a new impetus to their strategic relationship by developing a true “Euro-Moroccan partnership for shared prosperity.”
With the same view of enhancing the Morocco-EU partnership, Bourita also met with the European Commissioners for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, on Tuesday.
Johansson’s visit to Rabat enabled her to inspect projects the EU funds in Morocco related to migration and migrant integration. Also on her agenda were trips to the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines, and Morchidates, and a technical visit concerning Moroccan border management activities in Tangier.