EU-Morocco Relationship Must Transcend Notions of "Us and Them"

MAP - Publié le Mardi 8 Décembre 2020 à 15:08

Brussels - The relationship between the European Union and Morocco is called upon to give a clear political perspective to the ambitions of each partner, and to transcend notions of "us and them", said, on Monday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad Nasser Bourita.

"The concept of neighbour can be misleading because it creates a distorting mentality of 'us and them'. The renewed ENP (European Neighbourhood Policy) must transcend these notions and offer a clear political perspective that takes up the challenges but also brings answers to the ambitions of each partner", underlined Bourita in an interview published Monday by "The Parliament Magazine". 

Noting that collaboration on migration and security policy is only one aspect of the many dimensions of the EU-Morocco relationship "as we are now facing hybrid threats in addition to traditional threats", he stressed the imperative to continue positive commitment on the issue of mobility and migration.  "As part of the vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the Kingdom has been a reliable and responsible partner, and is committed to further strengthening our coordination and our political action on these challenges (...) which are common to both sides of the Mediterranean," he said. 

As a country of origin, transit and destination, crossed by one of the main Mediterranean migratory routes, he went on, Morocco sought to develop a constructive dialogue aimed at demystifying migration, especially since "out of 100 international migrants in the world, less than one is an illegal African migrant".  Bourita said he was firmly convinced that migration, far from being an obstacle to development, is a powerful lever for development when it is "safe, orderly and regular", as agreed in the Marrakesh Compact on Migration of 2018.  It is precisely because it considers the undeniable strategic relevance of the ENP that Morocco insists on "its full review", he stressed. 

"I think there is a need to rethink the way we approach complementarity and solidarity. We have the opportunity to push for some essential adjustments, starting by building on shared values and trust and going beyond the simplistic logic based only on geography", he said.  According to him, the current approach is a process restricting the promise of the ambitious partnership between Morocco and the EU. 

Asked about the role that Morocco can play, alongside the EU, in the post-Covid 19 recovery plans, the Minister said that the current global context of the pandemic, which has triggered economic and social crises, encourages the closest and most strategic partners to act together.  In this context, it is essential to have a geopolitical approach and to realize that to be a neighbour is to share the challenges and to boost the opportunities in terms of supply chains, he pointed out.  "We are fortunate to be so close geographically; we are fortunate to have similar economic models and standards.

The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of complex supply chains and the need for Europe to diversify its suppliers. Morocco has competitive advantages in this regard, in addition to its stability, its geographical location and its logistics,” he explained.  He concluded by saying that "we need to change our perceptions and our way of thinking, which only focus on loans and development, to work together for a new model of cooperation that will strengthen our mutual resilience and create an economic area of shared prosperity".