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Euro-Moroccan relations
European Union   Morocco
Map indicating location of European Union and Morocco
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Morocco

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The relationship between Morocco and the European Union was established some decades ago. However, the beginning of Moroccan King Mohammed VI's reign marked a major shift toward more cooperation, comprehension and partnership. The European Union has granted Morocco advanced status in 2008 on deepening ties and cooperation in Rabat.[1] The first EU-Morocco summit is planned for March 7, 2010.[2][3][4]

Contents

Membership application

Morocco applied to join the then-European Communities on 20 July 1987. The application was rejected by Community foreign ministers as they did not consider Morocco to be a European country and hence could not join. The rejection was expected as the King had sent feelers two years prior who received such a response.[5]

However, the rejection may well have also been connected to the country's very poor democratic and human rights standards, which have since only slightly improved, resulting in an unofficial attempt to renew the application.[6] In 2006 EU commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner declared that "we [EU] already have a very, very close relationship with Morocco, and we're studying giving them even more advanced status."[7]

History of cooperation

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Financial protocols (1977-1996)

Under the four financial protocols of the 1976 Cooperation Agreement signed between the European Community (predecessor of the EU) and Morocco, Morocco received a total of €1091 million, including €574 million from the Community budget and of €518 million in the form of loans from EIB own resources.[8] The protocols gave sectoral priority to rural development (46%). Other sectors of activity were, in order of importance: economic infrastructure (17%), the social sector (15.6 %), the private sector (10%), vocational training (10%) and civil society (0.4%).

MEDA programme

The Meda programme (adopted in July 1996) is the EU's principal financial instrument for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The budgetary resources allocated under Meda were €3.4 billion for 1995-1999 and €5.4 billion for 2000-2006. Morocco has become the principal beneficiary of the Meda programme, with commitments totalling €1.472 million for 1995-2006, of which €660 million under Meda I (1995-1999) and €812 million under Meda II (2000-2006).[9]

Meda cooperation touched all socio-economic spheres in Morocco. Several structural adjustment programmes were set up in essential sectors such as finance, taxation, water, transport, health, education, the civil service, plus twinnings and exchanges in services such as customs, the environment, youth, transport and justice. Investment programmes were implemented to support enterprise development, vocational training in the tourism, textile, and information and communication technology sectors, the development of the national road transport such as the Mediterranean "rocade" and the rural network, integrated rural infrastructure development, and water and sanitation programmes in rural areas (PAGER), measures to deal with unhealthy habitats to get rid of slums and improve access to social facilities. Meda funds were also channelled to migration, with the aim of fostering a better management of migratory flows. Financial cooperation also concerned environmental protection and the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

1996-2006

In the period 1996-2006 Morocco received financing totalling approximately €15 million under horizontal EU budget lines, in particular Meda democracy, the environment, LIFE, the ECIP, the fight against AIDS, NGO cofinancing, and the fight against drugs, plus €10 million under the budget lines for the 5th and 6th Framework Research, Technology and Development Programmes, in which more than 160 Moroccan teams participated.

Issues

Illegal immigration and terrorism have already replaced issues on the agenda that were important before like trade (i.e. agriculture and fishing) and drug trafficking. Starting in 2000, Moroccan and EU authorities have been keen to work together more closer with intelligence sharing and border control cooperation.

Human rights was an issue that curved Morocco-EU relationships for decades. Now, many European officials have lauded the efforts Morocco has made in the human rights field.

Another hot issue concerns territorial disputes. In July 2002, there was a skirmish between Spain and Morocco during the Perejil incident. Though tensions have eased since the coming of the Spanish Socialist party to power, the two Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla are still an obstacle between the two neighbouring countries. In October 2006 a diplomatic controversy was sparked between Morocco and Spain when Morocco had denied entry from Ceuta of a Spanish aid package consisting of 150 patrol vehicles to fight illegal immigration. This was later resolved by delivering the goods 50 km off Tangier's coast[10].

The Western Sahara conflict has always been on the agenda. Morocco has been seeking a formal European recognition of its claimed rights over the disputed territory.

Institutional integration

Under the Neighbourhood Action Plan Morocco has embarked on a major effort to align itself on the legislation and standards of the EU. This should enable it to gradually exploit the possibilities offered by the Neighbourhood Policy, and in particular progress beyond the existing relations towards a significant degree of integration; this includes allowing Morocco to participate in the internal market and taking part gradually in EU programmes. This will require a great effort by Morocco to create the necessary legislative and institutional conditions. This ambition is reflected in Morocco's advanced status with the EU which is "more than association, less than accession".

Agreements

Since 2000 Morocco and the EU have signed many bilateral agreements. Various agreements of free trade that Morocco ratified with its principal economic partners like the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area agreement with the objective of integrating the European Free Trade Association at the horizons of 2012 can be quoted. The two sides recently announced plans to extend their Free Trade Agreement to cover not only goods, but also all agriculture and services by 2010, giving Morocco almost the same deal with Europe as member states have with each other. Those agreements are parts of the Euro-Med Partnership signed in Barcelona, Spain in 1995. Morocco and the EU have also signed an open-skies agreement. The agreement is Europe's first ever outside its borders. It came into force in summer 2006.

Morocco is the largest recipient of financial aid in the European Neighbourhood Policy, and in December 2009, the EU granted Morocco a donation of MAD 771 million (USD 100 mln) to promote investments and exports, and contribute to the financing of the Rabat-Salé tramway project.[11][12]

See also

External links

References and notes

  1. ^ http://www.afrol.com/articles/32022
  2. ^ http://www.montesquieu-instituut.nl/9353000/1/j9vvh6nf08temv0/vibfbpqq0cqm?ctx=vg9piqcfmzzz&tab=1
  3. ^ http://www.ansamed.info/en/news/ME01.XAM18013.html
  4. ^ http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/newsbriefs/general/2009/12/08/newsbrief-04
  5. ^ "W. Europe Bloc Bars Morocco as a Member". Los Angeles Times. 1987-07-21. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/58410310.html?dids=58410310:58410310&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Jul+21%2C+1987&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=W.+Europe+Bloc+Bars+Morocco+as+a+Member&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2008-08-25.  
  6. ^ Morocco's dream of EU membership, The View from Fez
  7. ^ Don't look now, but a bit of Europe has come to the Maghreb. What next—full-fledged EU membership? - Newsweek
  8. ^ http://europa.eu/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2000/l_070/l_07020000318en00020190.pdf
  9. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/morocco/association_agreement/index_en.htm
  10. ^ Spain to go ahead with aid package that turned into diplomatic incident with Morocco - IHT
  11. ^ http://www.map.ma/eng/sections/economy/eu_grants_morocco/view
  12. ^ http://www.moroccobusinessnews.com/Content/Article.asp?idr=20&id=1290

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