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Europe’s Partnership with Morocco

Morocco has lately been strengthening its ties with the rest of Africa, through a combination of religious outreach and commercial linkages. For Europe, this represents an important opportunity to build on and benefit from a relationship that has progressed significantly in the past 20 years.

MADRID – Twenty years ago this month, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne, and a new era in European-Moroccan relations began. Given Morocco’s importance to the European Union – not only on matters relating to migration and security, but also as a bridge to the rest of Africa – it is worth considering where the relationship stands, and where it is headed.

Europe and Morocco are natural partners, linked by geography, culture, shared interests, and a long, complicated history. This includes over four decades of colonialism, with the country divided between French and Spanish protectorates, as well as an application by Morocco’s King Hassan II, some 30 years after independence, to join the European Communities (the precursor to the EU).

Morocco’s application was ultimately denied on the grounds that it didn’t qualify as a “European country.” But the bilateral relationship continued to be characterized more by cooperation than separation.

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