Morocco and the European Union have emphasised their commitment to building a stronger relationship during a meeting in Brussels, according to AFP, October 11.
On October 10, Morocco’s Prime Minister, Aziz Akhannouch met with the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen in the Belgian capital to strengthen the relations between the country and the European Union.
Neighbouring Tunisia signed a deal with the European bloc in July, a deal that gave hundred of millions of Euros to the North African country to help them establish stronger border controls, for the clampdown on people smuggling operations, and to help their lacklustre economy.
The controversial deal was met with scrutiny, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, called on Tunisia to stop expelling migrants and demanded that the country’s authorities relocate those living in harsh environments.
Since the beginning of the year, Tunisia has become an increasingly hostile environment for migrants, particularly black Africans, unaided by President Kais Saied’s anti-immigration rhetoric. In February, the 65-year-old claimed that immigration was a plot aimed at changing the country’s demographics.
Although he has denied so, violent attacks on migrants have been on the rise since he made the derogatory remarks.
The kingdom is the EU’s primary trading partner in Africa whilst the bloc is Morocco’s most notable trading partner, accounting for around 60 percent of total trade.
After the meeting, Von der Leyen took to X (formerly Twitter) to boast the strengthening of ties between the two saying, “Good meeting with Moroccan Head of Government Aziz Akhannouch. We discussed how to strengthen further the partnership. The EU will contribute to reconstruction and economic development after the earthquake. We also discussed the regional situation, following the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel and its people,”.
The reinforcement of ties comes after the “Moroccogate” scandal. The scandal, often referred to as “Qatargate”, is a 15-year-old network of a cabal of corrupt MEPs which were originally identified and paid by Morocco for white-washing its own human rights record.
In January 2023, two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were caught in the act, Marc Tabarella and Andrea Cozzolino, Belgian and Italian respectively, were accused of receiving bribes from Qatar which prompted an investigation from Belgium’s authorities.
The EU has since passed stricter laws on transparency rules following multiple accusations that a sizeable number of MEPs were embroiled in the scandal.