EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership: Border Control at the Expense of Human Lives?

Factsheet, Migration and Asylum, Morocco / Western Sahara

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The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) is today publishing its analysis of the Mobility Partnership signed between the European Union (EU) and Morocco.

While the Mobility Partnership is presented by the EU as a tool to promote mobility, the EMHRN’s analysis highlights the serious risks it poses to the rights of refugees and migrants.

The tragic death of 9 migrants who attempted to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea on Thursday 6 February is yet another example of the continued prioritisation of border control over human lives. The EMHRN is concerned that the Mobility Partnership between the EU and Morocco represents an additional move towards the lowest common denominator for migrant rights, both in Morocco and in the European Union.

Signed on 7 June 2013, the Partnership covers four main themes: improved organisation of legal migration; effective combating of irregular migration; maximising the positive effect of migration on development; and the promotion of and respect for refugees’ rights.

At a roundtable organised by the EMHRN in partnership with the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, several speakers recalled that Morocco has been under real and constant pressure from the European Union and its Member States for several years. The EMHRN regrets that at this stage the Mobility Partnership constitutes the latest evidence of the EU’s “disguised” externalisation of migration control.

The most worrying component is the proposed readmission agreement – already signed bilaterally with certain European member states – which facilitates the return to Morocco of both Moroccan citizens and third country nationals found entering or residing in the EU irregularly.

This is because, despite the positive signs of Morocco’s new migration policy, only a small proportion of Morocco’s irregular migrants are set to benefit from the country’s new regularisation campaign, launched in January, while events such as those of 6 February remind us of the continued risks faced by refugees and migrants in the country.

The EMHRN is concerned about the EU’s failure to take into consideration the violations of the rights of migrants and refugees on Moroccan territory and at the country’s borders, as well as the violence which has been exerted against these populations, including those most vulnerable. Additionally, the EMHRN regrets that this Partnership only covers the mobility of the most privileged groups. In the context of the visa facilitation negotiations which are currently underway, the EU is encouraged to promote the mobility of all Moroccans and third country nationals residing in Morocco.

Morocco has the possibility of pioneering a radically new approach to migration that could constitute a positive example for other countries in the region. Likewise, by actively supporting the implementation of such a new migration policy, the EU would be ratifying an innovative form of cooperation – one that truly promotes mobility and which could also be developed with other neighbouring countries..

The EMHRN calls upon the EU to establish cooperation with Morocco that is both in line with the events taking place in the country and which guarantees the full respect of the rights of migrants and refugees. Failure to do so will mean that this “Mobility Partnership” will continue to reflect an asymmetric relationship, where the securitisation of European borders will come, once again, at the expense of human rights in the region.

Related themes:

icon gender Migration and Asylum

Related countries:

Morocco / Western Sahara