Morocco continues its firm stance towards those countries that clearly support its position on Western Sahara. This time, by breaking economic agreements with Germany that have had a direct impact on its energy sector. After the Moroccan foreign ministry issued a statement criticising Germany for exacerbating “hostile acts that are detrimental to the higher interests of the Kingdom of Morocco”, Rabat recalled its ambassador, Zohour Alaoui, for consultations, sparking a diplomatic crisis.
Morocco has now decided to further aggravate this crisis by paralysing the agreement on green hydrogen, which was signed between the two countries last year. This paralysis would have a direct impact on Germany's plan to achieve energy neutrality after setting itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030.
This decision has reached the German Bundestag itself, where members of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) have asked about the repercussions this decision could have on energy. In response, the Foreign Ministry has stated that “The German-Moroccan hydrogen alliance is based on long-term, successful development cooperation and the German-Moroccan energy partnership. From the perspective of the federal government, this cooperation remains in the interests of both parties, but is being put to the test due to current developments."
Germany, however, has not remained on the sidelines. Germany has decided that German money will not flow until further notice. According to the German Development Bank (KFW), “current project activities are currently being postponed", and "funds are only paid out if the partner fulfills his contractual obligations," clarifies the Federal Foreign Office.
The energy cooperation agreement was signed last year in Berlin by Ambassador Zohour Alaoui and German Development Minister Gerd Müller, and would have aimed to "develop the green hydrogen production sector and establish research and investment projects in the use of this material, an environmentally friendly energy source".
In this sense, both countries gave the green light to the implementation of two new projects. The first was the "Power-to-X" project, aimed at developing the production of green hydrogen and proposed by the Moroccan Solar Energy Agency (MASEN), as well as the establishment of a research platform for the development of the project. The second would focus on knowledge transfer and capacity building in partnership with the Institute for Research on Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN).
Following this standstill, the companies are already making a change of strategy, as 2 billion euros would have been earmarked for developing projects abroad that would allow Germany to achieve its proposed goals of energy neutrality. FDP development policy spokesman Christoph Hoffmann said that "building a threatening backdrop against Morocco and claiming that green hydrogen projects are in danger is not in Germany's interest". On the other hand, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was necessary to travel to Morocco to ease tensions.