Monday

25th Mar 2019

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission is ready to dole out more money to Morocco to help stem irregular migration into Spain.

"We are fully aware of the needs as conveyed by Morocco that require much higher financial effort and we are prepared to deliver this," commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reports in Brussels on Wednesday (1 August).

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It remains unclear what the 'higher financial effort' entails, but the EU had in July already earmarked €55m for Morocco and Tunisia from its EU Trust Fund for Africa.

The bulk of the money will go to Rabat and help train and better equip Moroccan border guards, a decision made in the aftermath of an EU summit where heads of state and government agreed to help the country "prevent illegal migration."

The commission says the Moroccan funding "is only the start of a longer term operation", a statement that also comes amid vague EU plans to get north African states to accept disembarked rescues.

More funding for Morocco is likely in autumn and then again in 2019.

The comments are a response to a recent Spanish demand for help following an increase of irregular migrant arrival pressure along its southern coast and in its Ceuta and Melilla enclaves bordering Morocco.

Over 23,000 have so far landed in Spain by sea this year, almost as many as the whole of 2017. The EU has provided Spain with €25.6 million to help with reception centres in the two enclaves and with returns.

Most of the Spanish arrivals are from sub-Saharan Africa, although many are also Moroccan nationals. The European Commission is negotiating an readmission agreement with Morocco.

In a letter addressed to Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday stated that it "stands side by side with Spain" and that it is ready to provide additional support.

Juncker said extra money will be made available to Spain to help its civil guard officers patrolling the area.

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