November 30, 2018
How can we tackle irregular migration flows into Europe? This is a question that has been puzzling the minds of European politicians and citizens over the past few years, especially after the refugee crisis of 2015 caused by the ravaging war in Syria.
Many have argued that the influx of asylum seekers has triggered fear and anxiety among certain segments of the population, and that those sentiments are the cause for the rise of populist movements in several European countries. Phobias are surfacing, sly politicians are turning to oversimplification and scapegoating to blur what, in reality, is not black and white. Are they perhaps not asking the right questions?
North Africa, and Morocco in particular, has seen the expansion of dense migratory paths where several thousands of people try to reach the coasts of Europe. Spain has become the number one destination for the majority of them. Close to 50,000 asylum seekers were counted for in 2018. Are there other ways to turn the challenges linked to migration on their head?
Morocco, a key partner for the EU, has implemented structures for “circular migration”, by which agricultural workers move to Spain twice a year to work on farms in the countryside. They not only send remittances to their families, but when the season ends, they go back to their hometowns having accumulated savings that could be employed to develop their local communities.
The EU has recognized the importance of having a solid partner in North Africa, giving Morocco the accolades it deserves for playing an important role in the management of migratory flows. Three programs for the development and improvement of migration management have been approved by the European Commission, whose total budget is estimated at 90,5 million EUR.
Caring for refugees and vulnerable migrants has also been at the top of the EU’s agenda for which a budget of 6,5 million EUR has been allocated by the European Commission. Support was also given to the 2015 Moroccan National Strategy on migration and as a consequence, several regularization campaigns were conducted where close to 50,000 applicants were able to acquire residency status.
A member of the African Union, Morocco is considered a bastion of stability by the European Union and as such, a key influencer in the region. Its gravitas in Northern Africa could bring about closer cooperation with neighboring countries, as well as the much-desired geopolitical stability. It is noteworthy that Moroccan authorities have been active in the fight against terrorism and human trafficking. In 2018 alone, security authorities tracked down and disbanded close to 80 criminal networks involved in the traffic of human lives.
Trade is another domain where Morocco’s importance should not be overlooked. 56% of Morocco’s imports arrived from the EU, while 64 % of its exports went in the other direction. The ties extend from fisheries and development to agriculture and security.
As we reach the end of the year, Morocco will be the setting for the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration on the 10th and 11th of December. One of the main goals of the conference will be the formal adoption of the Global Compact for Migration, which was voted and agreed upon by the UN Member States last July. Needless to say, the importance of the conference is incommensurate as the lives of more than two hundred million migrants are at stake.
On November 28th, 2018, the Brussels-based NGO European Foundation for Democracy, organized a conference on ‘Migration in the Mediterranean: Why the EU needs Partners in the Region’ in the European Parliament to discuss ways to tackle the challenges related to irregular migration and to ensure the human rights of asylum seekers, who risk their lives to cross to Europe.Author : Mauricio Ruiz