"We hope that this will lead the countries concerned to change their policy and accept the issuing of consular passes," said the French government spokesman

Francia reduce los visados a Marruecos, Argelia y Túnez

photo_camera AFP/PHILIPPE WOJAZER - French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the number of visas granted to Moroccan and Algerian nationals will be reduced by 50 per cent, and by 30 per cent for Tunisian nationals compared to 2020.

These measures, which represent a shift in French migration policy, have been announced by Gabriel Attal, spokesman for the French government. "It is a drastic and unprecedented decision, but necessary," said Attal.  The spokesman explained that the government took the decision after these countries refused to accept the return of their migrants. "We cannot keep them in France," he declared.

"In 2018 we passed the law on asylum and immigration. The obstacle to it being effective and to effective deportations is the fact that countries refuse consular passes, a document necessary to carry out expulsions," Attal explained. Later, the spokesman declared that there had been dialogue with "certain Maghreb countries", but then came the threats. "Today we are making good on those threats", he stressed. 

atalayar_argelia-francia

According to Europe 1, between January and July this year, French authorities ordered the expulsion of 7,731 illegal Algerians, but only 22 of them (0.2 per cent) left the country, as Algeria refused to provide the necessary consular authorisations. In Morocco, of the 3,301 deportations ordered by the courts, only 2.4 per cent were carried out, while in Tunisia, of the 3,424, only 4 per cent were carried out.

"The decision has been taken and will be implemented in a few weeks," Attal said. "We hope that this will lead the countries concerned to change their policy and accept the issuance of consular passes," he added.

Morocco considers the decision "unjustified"

Rabat regrets the Paris measure, which it considers "unjustified". "Morocco has always handled the migration issue with responsibility and balance", declared Nasser Bourita, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs. Bourita also stressed his country's fight against illegal migration. "Our consular channels have issued nearly 400 passes for people in an irregular situation over the last eight months," he said.

"France's decision is sovereign. Morocco will study it, but the reasons given to justify it require explanation and dialogue, because they do not reflect reality," said the head of the Kingdom's diplomacy. 

atalayar_marruecos-francia

The Moroccan media reported the Elysée's decision with headlines such as "slap in the face of the Moroccans", or "France uses the visa weapon without success".

Several Moroccan citizens have also expressed their opinion to Al-Arab. A 28-year-old university student pointed out that this decision is a "means of pressure on Morocco". "France should not forget that there are many students and tourists who will now face a big problem", he added.

A 45-year-old worker considered the measures as "a restriction on Moroccans and the freedom to travel". He deplored the situation, recalling that "Morocco and France share fraternal relations and a historic friendship".

atalayar_bourita
Immigration, a key issue in the upcoming French elections

Macron announced the immigration reforms on the same day that Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally (RN) party, presented her party's programme on immigration. Le Pen has promised that if she becomes president, she will organise a referendum on the issue.

The programme of Le Pen's party reaffirms the primacy of the French when it comes to receiving social benefits. In addition, foreigners who commit serious crimes would be expelled, and if they re-enter illegally, it would become a crime.