EU’s Support for Morocco Not Conditional on Human Rights

Written by | Friday, November 1st, 2013

Human rights is a sovereign issue that should be dealt with by the Moroccan government and not the European Union, stated Eneko Landaburu, the former EU ambassador to Morocco between 2009 and 2013. Landburu explained in an interview with EurActiv that, despite the presence of an Islamist party in power and the concerns caused by the ‘Arab Spring‘ in the MENA region, Morocco has remained a stable a country.
In a country like Morocco, discussing human rights is a matter of persuasion, negotiation and political power relations, he explained and added that „the EU is very important for Morocco, so we are listening. [But] this does not mean that we are always followed.“ With respect to the human rights issue, the EU diplomats are not in a position to co-manage a policy, but “to operate as custodians, observers and facilitators at certain times and on a number of advances”.
Morocco receives more financial aid from the EU than any other country in the region. This funding is aimed at modernising Moroccan economy and helping out on social policies, such as literacy programmes. But the biggest novelty is that the EU now channels more funds to the civil sector in Morroco, reflecting a re-orientation of the EU’s aid policies after the Arab Spring. While Morocco has shown signs of openness lately thanks to a new Constitution, which broadens the spectrum of human rights and liberties, the government is not yet willing to consider abolishing of the death penalty.
Following the Lampedusa tragedy, the senior EU diplomat also explained that the EU is currently working on a “new agreement on mobility”, which is aimed at accompanying and helping legal migrants when they reach Europe, while combatting illegal migration. The EU would like to see Morocco to put in place a consistent migration policy but the problem also is the lack of sufficiently structured migration policy at EU level.
The EU signed an association agreement with Morocco in 1996 to replace the 1976 Co-operation Agreement. In line with the new generation of association agreements between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, the preamble emphasises the importance of the principles of the United Nations Charter, in particular the observance of human rights, democratic principles and economic freedom. One important chapter of the association agreement also refers to migration and social affairs.

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