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European Law Monitor NewsEU-Morocco: Association Council decides to strengthen bilateral relations

The European Commission represented by Eneko Landaburu, the director general for External Relations, and Morocco, represented by Taïb Fassi-Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, will take part on the 23rd July 2007, in the sixth session of the Association Council bringing together the European Union and Morocco, which is being held in Brussels. The Association Council will discuss the state of bilateral relations between the two partners and ways to instigate a process of reflection on how to strengthen these relations. The European Commission and Morocco will use the occasion to sign a joint declaration supporting energy cooperation, notably with a view to preparing for the eventual integration of the Moroccan energy market with that of the European Union. A memorandum of understanding will also be signed regarding the support programme for Morocco for the coming years. This will involve more than €650 million and will provide back-up for the implementation of the EU-Morocco Action Plan drawn up under the neighbourhood policy.

"We are very satisfied with the progress being made in relations between the European Union and Morocco. We note that Morocco is striving to implement reforms and that rapid progress is also being made in attaining the goals of the EU-Morocco Action Plan. Morocco has also shown considerable interest in the Union's new proposals for a strengthened neighbourhood policy. I am therefore pleased with the decision to establish a working group with the concrete objective to examine options in order to strengthen our relations. The Commission will play an active role in this process wherever it has a competence. Before starting work on that, we have already launched negotiations to ensure that Morocco is progressively included in certain Community programmes and agencies," said Ms Ferrero Waldner after the meeting of the Association Council.

Morocco has continued to implement its ambitious programme of social, economic and political modernisation. Under the EU-Morocco Action Plan agreed within the framework of the neighbourhood policy, the partners may, after three years, begin to discuss the following stage in the development of their bilateral relations, including the possibility of new contractual links.

On that basis the European Union and Morocco have decided to set up a working group to study ways of strengthening relations between the two parties. The Commission is determined to complete this process of reflection before the next Association Council meeting, which is scheduled for the second half of 2008.

On the sidelines of the Association Council, the Commission and Morocco will sign a joint declaration on priorities for energy cooperation that will reflect Morocco's importance as a reliable country for the transit of natural gas and as an exporter of electricity to the European market. The declaration lays down a political framework for a gradual convergence of Morocco's energy policy on that of the EU.

The Commission and Morocco will also sign the Memorandum of Understanding on EU financial support for Morocco for the period 2007-10. This programme, totalling €654 million, comprises five priority areas: (a) social development, (b) economic development, (c) human rights and governance, (d) the environment and (e) institutional support.

In addition to those funds, Morocco will also be eligible for loans from the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) and will be able to benefit from European funding through thematic programmes such as the programme for promoting democracy and human rights, the programme for investing in human resources, and the migration and asylum programme. Morocco will also be able to benefit from regional programmes reserved for Mediterranean countries, interregional programmes that are open to all countries covered by the neighbourhood policy, and funding from the programme for cross-border cooperation between regions of Morocco and the European Union.

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Reproduced with the permission of the European Commission IP/07/1155