PARTNER-ATLAS

MOROCCO

as a partner for regulating global migration flows

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Morocco have for Germany with regards to "regulating global migration flows"?

In recent years, Morocco has become an important partner for Germany with respect to migration issues. On the one hand, the Kingdom has assumed a special role within the African Union (AU) and the international community; on the other hand, it is itself one of the countries where migration is taking place in varying ways. In February 2019, Morocco presented a new migration policy for Africa at the AU and focused on the prospect of development through migration. The new policy places particular emphasis on the fact that migration is not a security problem, and that there is, in the first instance, a need to combat the causes of migration and fleeing refugees.

Morocco is itself affected by various forms of migration. The western Mediterranean is one of the main refugee routes from Africa to Europe. The EU border security agency Frontex registered 23,733 illegal crossings in 2019. The refugees came mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, Morocco and Algeria. In addition to the sea route to the Spanish mainland and the Canary Islands, the media are reporting in particular on the dangerous storming of the Spanish exclaves Ceuta and Melilla. The two cities are located on the Moroccan coast and have had massive border installations since the 1990s.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Morocco willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

Morocco’s geographical proximity to mainland Europe makes it a key partner in the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy. The partnership, which is based on the association agreement concluded in 2000, primarily includes support in the areas of social security, the development of democracy, access to the labour market and sustainable economic growth.

The topic of migration is of great interest within Moroccan society. For centuries, Morocco has been a country of origin, transit and destination for migrants and is therefore an important bridge between the African, Arab and European world. Many Moroccans have emigrated to Europe since Morocco’s independence in 1956. Today, about 5 million Moroccans live abroad, 76,000 of them in Germany. According to the law, Moroccans retain their nationality even if they permanently reside abroad and their ties to the home country are often particularly strong. About a third of the tourists who visit Morocco every year actually originate from the country. Remittances and investments by Moroccans living abroad make this an influential group.

Given the close relationship with Europe and the important role migration plays for Morocco, the country is willing to work with international partners in this policy area. However, there are certain limits to this willingness to cooperate (repatriation issues, reception centres).

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Morocco's current cooperation in this area?

The situation changed significantly with the introduction of the Schengen Agreement and the visa requirement (1991). A visa is now required for entry into neighbouring Europe – though individuals sometimes enter illegally. The fact that many Moroccans themselves are affected by migration has a major impact on their attitude towards the issue.

The majority of migrants arrive in Morocco from sub-Saharan Africa, Syria, Iraq or the Middle East with the intention of travelling on to Europe. The situation has been difficult for these people, especially due to a tightening of the security law in 2003 which aimed to prevent irregular migration and smuggling.

For most migrants, there was no access to a residence permit, legal work or welfare support.

This development was also viewed critically in Germany. Under pressure from civil society and migrant associations, the National Human Rights Commission investigated the situation. The report led to a significant change in asylum law in 2013. The government decided on four steps to improve the situation: regularisation of migrants, improved recognition of asylum seekers, a far-reaching integration policy, and the involvement of civil society. The first measures were initiated in 2014. Recognised refugees can now receive a temporary residence permit in Morocco after providing proof of hardship or a job. Because a national asylum system is still being developed, the procedure for recognising refugees has been taken over by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Morocco in this area?

Germany is supporting this process and has been able to expand its relations with the Kingdom in recent years. The high point of the cooperation was their 2017-2018 co-chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. This forum discussed issues such as fair integration in the labour market for migrants and recognised asylum seekers, along with the causes of migration. The forum made a major contribution to the signing of the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (December 2018 in Marrakesh). This UN Compact for Migration obliges the signatory states to manage the situation of potential migrants in their country of origin in such a way that they may, in fact, remain there. Additionally, the human rights of migrants in the relevant transit and destination countries are to be given greater protection.

Particularly Morocco’s role in the debates on migration within the AU and Morocco’s engagement in Africa hold great potential for a partnership between Germany and Morocco. Morocco has many years of experience with the various forms of migration and has been able to develop certain successful strategies. It is also in Germany’s interest to have strengthened relations with the countries of West Africa, especially since the security policy situation in the Sahel, and the resulting migration, are of central importance for both countries.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

The trade-off between domestic and foreign policy in Morocco should also play a role in controversial matters. Cooperation works well in many areas, but German foreign policy is reaching its limits on critical questions. There is no agreement at EU level on common asylum procedures. A large number of bilateral agreements complicates the issue. For example, Spain has concluded a number of agreements with Morocco on border security, which also cover the supply of arms. A development that is viewed critically in other European countries.

Analysis of Moroccan politics is difficult due to the complicated configuration of players, but it should nonetheless be attempted. In addition to the ministry of the interior, which plays the dominant role in security matters, there are a number of social processes that are pushing for human development in the country. Civil society’s commitment to the rights of migrants in Morocco has demonstrated this. Morocco’s engagement at the international level would be another important starting point; the results of the Global Forum and the Migration Compact offer a framework for action.

In particular, demands that conditions be created locally in the countries themselves, which offer alternatives to migration, can only be achieved in cooperation with the other African states. Since March 2020, the coronavirus has demonstrated that the Moroccan health and social system is still insufficiently developed. Migrants living in Morocco were particularly affected by the cessation of welfare assistance and the loss of unofficial jobs.

Steffen Krüger heads the KAS Office in Morocco.

MOROCCO

  • Population: 36,930,188
  • Capital: Rabat
  • Interest: Regulating Global Migration Flows
  • Region: The Middle East and North Africa
  • Potential partner countries: Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco

04 — The region

Naher Osten und Nordafrika

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MOROCCO

In recent years, Morocco has become an important partner for Germany with respect to migration issues. On the one hand, the Kingdom has assumed a special role within the African Union (AU) and the international community; on the other hand, it is itself one of the countries where migration is taking place in varying ways. In February 2019, Morocco presented a new migration policy for Africa at the AU and focused on the prospect of development through migration. The new policy places particular emphasis on the fact that migration is not a security problem, and that there is, in the first instance, a need to combat the causes of migration and fleeing refugees.

  • Population: 36,930,188
  • Capital: Rabat
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