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Cooperation, regional peace, Africa… The challenges of Josep Borrell's visit to Morocco

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, is making a working visit to Morocco on 5 and 6 January 2023. The stakes of this move are colossal. To analyse.

It will be his first trip abroad of the year and it is quite a symbol. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HRVP), Josep Borrell, is making a working visit to Morocco on January 5 and 6, 2023. He will notably have talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad, Nasser Bourita, as well as with the Head of Government, Aziz Akhannouch.

This visit is part of the implementation of the Joint Political Declaration, adopted in June 2019, and establishing the “Euro-Moroccan Partnership for Shared Prosperity”, which revolves around four “spaces”: political and safety, economy, values ​​and knowledge. In addition, there are two horizontal axes, namely the environment and the question of migration.

A sign of the importance of relations between Morocco and the EU, this visit, Josep Borrell’s first to Morocco in his capacity as HRVP, comes after 6 trips by as many members of the College of European Commissioners for the year 2022 alone. , including that of the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen. “It comes to testify to the centrality of the strategic and multidimensional partnership which binds the two parties and to further broaden the relationship to new strategic areas, in a context marked by many challenges”, affirms a source close to the file. Security, energy transition, food security and climate change will thus be at the heart of a renewed relationship, based on mutual trust.

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Morocco-European Union: the program of Borrell’s visit to the Kingdom

The year 2023 is therefore called upon to be an important step in consolidating the effectiveness of this Morocco-EU partnership, in view of the holding of the 15e session of the Morocco-EU Association Council. “The EU is aware that Morocco is a trusted, reliable and credible partner which has the expertise and know-how enabling them to carry out joint initiatives at regional level and to coordinate their positions within the fora multilateralism in everyone’s interest”, says our interlocutor. This, especially since Morocco has always been considered by the EU as a provider of regional stability and a reference in the field of peace in Africa. This visit is, as such, an opportunity for Josep Borrell to discuss issues of interest in Africa, particularly in the Sahel and the Maghreb, as well as with regard to the situation in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

European Union: the major challenges of 2023

The two parties are starting from a record of cooperation that has never been as rich as it is today. Note the signing of a Green Partnership, the first of its kind concluded by the EU with a country in its southern neighborhood and the launch of discussions on a Digital Partnership. The satisfactory implementation of the multiple agreements concluded between the two parties in the areas of air, fisheries, research and trade (agricultural, fisheries and industrial products) are also among the major achievements. Added to this is the advanced operationalization of the Economic and Investment Plan arising from the New Agenda for the Mediterranean, including 6 Flagship Projects out of 7 and covering various areas: higher education, development of resilient, sustainable and inclusive economies, digital transformation , research and innovation, energy transition and security, sustainable food systems, agriculture and sustainable development.

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In addition, it should be noted that the EU has granted Morocco a financial envelope of 1.6 billion euros within the framework of the 2021-2027 program, to which other funding will be added. Morocco and the European Union are also linked by a partnership for mobility implemented according to a global and balanced approach and a high-level dialogue on migration, as well as an operational partnership to combat migrant smuggling launched in July 2022.

Cooperation in security and judicial matters is progressing, marked by the Morocco-EU co-presidency of the GCTF (Global Counterterrorism Forum) and a positive dynamic with European agencies, in particular Europol, Frontex and Eurojust. And the two parties are also, and among other things, committed to greater association of Morocco with community programs (Horizon Europe, Creative Europe, EU4Health, etc.).

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