EU gives £ 1/3 billion to Morocco in a pre-Christmas splurge.
Late on Friday when office Christmas parties were about to start, the EU announced its latest new spending commitments in the Arabic Kingdom of Morocco.
Announced before the UK exits the EU, this means that these commitments will form part of the EU’s Divorce Bill which it will present to the UK next year.
The new EU programmes for Morocco consist of:
€289 million “to support Morocco’s reforms and inclusive development”
€101.7 million in respect of migration “as part of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa”
“A consensus was reached…” [for the current budget period] “of between €1.3 billion and €1.6 billion”
The priorities cover (Equitable access to basic services; ) Support for democratic governance, the rule of law and mobility) Employment and sustainable and inclusive growth.
“The European Commission is today adopting new cooperation programmes worth €389 million in support of the Kingdom of Morocco, in order to support reforms, inclusive development and border management and work towards developing a ‘Euro-Moroccan partnership for shared prosperity’.”
Official EU Commission announcement, Fri 20 Dec 2019
Please note The EU’s figures do not add up, The total should be €391 million.
Examples of how the money will be spent
According to the EU Commission’s latest report (Dec 2019), the EU’s new largesse will be spent in Morocco on projects such as
€5.5 million — Fight against racism and xenophobia towards the migrant community within a human rights-based approach and gender dimension
€4.6 million — Promoting the rights of migrants to legal assistance
€7.5 million — Foster mutually beneficial legal migration and labour mobility
Some basic facts about Morocco
Morocco has the only land borders with the EU on the African continent, thanks to two small Spanish enclaves on its northern coast. Morocco disputes Spanish sovereignty and claims these areas of Ceuta and Melilla, as well as the island of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, and the dispute with the Spanish government continues. Morocco also claims territories on its other borders with African countries and has been involved in fighting for many years.
In its romanised form the country’s name is formally ‘Al-mamlakah al-maghribiyah’. The population of 36 million is 99% Muslim, with the majority being Sunnis. King Mohammed is the head of state and has significant powers. Officially he is “Commander of the Faithful” as a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, and he presides over the Council of Ministers.
Homosexuality is illegal, as is promoting the Christian or any other faith. Press freedoms continue to be curtailed.
According to the French government in 2006, 80% of the cannabis resin in the EU comes from the Rif region in Morocco. The country is also purportedly a major transit point for cocaine from South America to enter the EU.
Morocco finally gained independence from France in 1956. According to the World Bank’s figures for last year (2018), Morocco’s GDP was $ 118.5 bn. This equates to just 4% of the size of the UK economy.
In the overall scheme of things, £ 1/3 of a billion might not sound a lot. It is therefore important to put this in context for readers.
This is merely the latest example of the EU’s continuing spending outside its borders. Almost every day the EU announces items such as this. The overall effect is an enormous sum each year. These daily announcements are never reported in the UK, of course.
EU spending like there’s no tomorrow
The other key point to make is that the EU has never, ever, made any attempt to cut back its spending, knowing that the UK — its second-largest funder — is leaving. There has been no attempt to mitigate the bill which the EU will be presenting to the UK next year.
Some time ago it was predicted that the EU would accelerate many of its plans before the UK left, thereby ensuring that these items would be included in the ‘divorce bill’. The latest funding will follow the usual EU pattern. It has been committed now, but the overall expenditure will continue for several years. The EU will hold the UK liable for its large share of this, even for the portions that have not even been spent.
Boris must be bold
In my view, it is essential that the new administration of Boris Johnson pushes back on any EU claims for its ‘Divorce Bill’. The EU has never provided any legal justification that any monies are owing. Article 50 clearly states that on exit all obligations cease. Several times l have reported on the fact that even the Europhile House of Lords Committee found no legal claim to be substantiated.
[ Sources: EU Commission | World Bank ]