The disbursement completes the €450 million support package the EU offered Morocco in March
Rabat – With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, the EU has finalized its €450 billion commitment to provide financial assistance to Morocco. Following an earlier disbursement of €264 million in March, the EU today paid the final €169 million of the assistance package.,
“Today’s disbursement shows that the European Union stands by Morocco in its efforts to curb the pandemic, protect poor families and to get its economy back on its feet,” stated the EU’s Neighbourhood and Enlargement commissioner, Olivér Varhelyi. “Boosting growth and jobs to ensure livelihoods and keep businesses affected by the current crisis afloat is a crucial priority for both sides.”
He concluded that “Morocco is an important partner of the EU and we are in this fight together.”
Morocco and the EU agreed on a €450 million COVID-19 support package, both parties announced on March 27 as it became clear the virus constituted a global crisis.
At the time, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, and the EU’s Varhelyi said the assistance package would aim to help Morocco’s medical, economic, and social efforts against the pandemic.
Today’s announcement by the EU stated that the COVID-19 support package had helped Morocco “strengthen its response” in both the health, social and economic aspects of the crisis. It explained that Morocco’s decision to implement “stringent sanitary measures, including lockdowns” had “hit hard both the economy and tens of thousands of vulnerable persons and families.”
The EU statement highlighted Morocco’s far-ranging support programs for both families and small and medium-size businesses. These programs have “taken a heavy toll on public finances,” according to the statement. It added, “Today’s EU support helps Morocco successfully implement these measures.”
The EU’s COVID-19 support package has helped finance Morocco’s existing funds to support businesses and vulnerable families. These initiatives included “tax deferment, guaranteed loans and grants to SMEs as well as emergency allowances to vulnerable families.”
The EU’s assistance package will no doubt have helped Morocco deal with the economic impact of increasing government spending amid a slump in revenues. Questions remain however about the longevity of this support as the full EU COVID-19 support package has now been disbursed while the pandemic continues to rage on.
Many countries are currently experiencing a third wave of infections while a new mutated strain has emerged in the UK. The newly discovered UK strain is not more lethal but does appear to speed up transmission of the virus. No cases of the UK variant have to date been detected in Morocco.
With the crisis still very much in flux, it remains to be seen whether the EU will extend its support for new COVID-19 support to Morocco. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU has contributed roughly €200 million a year in bilateral assistance. This number could increase as the health crisis continues, or be reduced as EU member states face shrinking tax revenues themselves.