Rabat expects to receive around 500 million euros in aid to control irregular immigration. The European Union's allocation for this expenditure has increased by 50 per cent, according to information obtained by the daily El País.
This aid will cover the period up to 2027 and is double that of the previous period. According to the source quoted by the Spanish newspaper, the amount of this aid reflects the significant degree of cooperation that exists between the European Union and what has become the leading partner in the fight against the irregular trafficking of immigrants from North Africa.
The harmony between the European Union and Morocco in the area of immigration control took on a special meaning when at the end of July the Commissioner for Home Affairs, the Swedish Socialist Ylva Johansson, met with her Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, accompanied by the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
After the meeting in Rabat, the authorities promised more cooperation on immigration control. In addition to reaffirming his commitment to seeing a new asylum pact with African partners succeed, Johansson also promised greater involvement of the European Union and its agencies.
The increased budget allocation is the first such measure to be made public. Previous support for the same expenditure was around 300 million euros. The expenditure is to be spent on improving border control infrastructure, resources, investigations between cross-border authorities and a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal immigration.
The increase in aid comes at a critical time for border control. After the terrible tragedy at the fence separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from neighbouring Morocco in mid-June, people smuggling is once again a priority for the European Union and for cooperation in the Mediterranean.
The vast majority of irregular entries into Spain from Morocco and Africa take place by sea with the help of boats known as 'cayucos'. According to the authorities, there is a whole network of smugglers who provide a service to get migrants to Spain, not without great danger.
Much of the investment in resources and infrastructure is expected to be in maritime surveillance. Morocco employs small patrol vessels, as well as surveillance drones that can give warning if suspicious vessels are detected.
Several political and European groups have argued in favour of increasing this aid to Morocco. It was also high on the agenda of the EU-Morocco Interparliamentary Committee during its last visit to Brussels.