Morocco-EU: the road to a modernised relationship

‘The rise of the ENP as the main instrument for the EU's external relations with its southern neighbours has led to a shift in emphasis from regional building to bilateralism’, EuroMeSCo 2023 Survey 
Bandera de Marruecos - PHOTO/PIXABAY
Flag of Morocco - PHOTO/PIXABAY

The Euro-Mediterranean region faces a number of threats that member states must address together. It is therefore a priority for them to deepen cooperation and security. In this regard, a full partnership between Morocco and Europe is a matter of mutual interest. Of course, this is no easy task, since in the current context there are threats that pose real challenges to the implementation of this goal.  

From the African side, the first steps will have to be directed towards its main economic challenges: boosting the domestic economy and participation in the global value chain (GVC). By steering the partnership with the EU towards Morocco's main industrial sectors (these being phosphate-fertilisers, automotive, agri-food and aeronautics), the Moroccan nation would gain an economic boost and increase the presence of these ecosystems in the GVC.  

For the time being, Morocco is on the right track in this respect. It already enjoys a growing share in GVCs, reaching levels similar to or even higher than those of some emerging countries, such as Russia, India or Turkey. This is also important at the regional level, as Morocco is one of the few economies in the MENA region that can boast such figures.   

Banderas de la Unión Europea - PHOTO/FILE
Flags of the European Union - PHOTO/FILE

Based on the responses to the EuroMeSCo Euromed survey ‘The Future of the European Neighbourhood Policy’, it was revealed that socio-economic development is the topic of greatest interest. Also, 53% of Moroccan participants praised the effects of the ENP's socio-economic development apparatus in the South. In order to revive and strengthen the EU-Morocco relationship, the economic achievements of the ENP must be built on. However, the problem that the implementation of regional elements within the ENP has never been fully developed must first be solved: understanding the countries of the South as a single bloc, rather than as a region made up of different national identities.  

Morocco, as a state with its own identity and aspirations, has a clear foreign policy: on the one hand, to strengthen ties with the West (with whom it shares history and geography) and, on the other, to take care of its geo-economic interests in the South-South community. On its horizon is the creation of a network of its own links on the North-South, South-South axis and the alliance of cooperation between Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

In order to meet Moroccan expectations, it is not only the capacity to mobilise economic resources that matters; political commitments are an essential part of the action plan. In the Morocco-EU relationship, various institutional constraints have complicated the development of certain plans over time. However, this has not prevented their implementation, based on the principle of ownership around Moroccan priorities. Political commitments with the European Union have yet to be negotiated, but the interest in modernising the partnership is a reality for both Morocco and Europe.