The EU has allocated $275 million of aid to Morocco to boost efforts to stem illegal migration to the continent, according to state-run news agency MAP.
The EU's Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn signed several agreements covering the funding with Morocco's Finance Minister Mohamed Benchaaboun over the weekend, with Hahn affirming Europe's commitment to Morocco's national development.
Glad to sign adaptations to the programme f. #GreenGrowth & #Competitiveness, worth €150m and a €9m top up to the #SocialProtection programme worth €100m. With these programmes #EU helps #Moroccan people w/ creating new jobs,fostering innovation & start ups+social protection. pic.twitter.com/jtY6t25tyO
— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) September 14, 2018
Some $175 million of the aid is destined for the "Competitiveness and Green Growth" programme, aimed at strengthening the status of the self-employed entrepreneurs, first-time exporters, the business climate and the emergence of recycling channels. The rest of the funds will go towards government social protection initiatives, aiming to reduce social disparities by increasing access to basic services.
Morocco has an unemployment rate of over nine per cent, but the figure rises to nearly 30 per cent for young people, resulting in many looking to escape their difficult economic circumstances through migration to Europe.
The funding comes amid a growing call for more inclusive economic growth as a strategy to tackle migrants seeking to travel to Europe to secure a better life.
On Saturday, Abdelilah Benkirane, former secretary-general of the ruling Justice and Development Party, called for a solution to illegal migration to be found, even if "this would require equal distribution of wealth".
Benkirane suggested that the current epidemic of people seeking to leave Morocco "raises profound questions about confidence, the economic model followed in the country, management, governance, rent (rent economy is to take advantage of funds or licenses without effort or work), money and power.
Earlier this month, the Moroccan government announced that in 2018, security authorities had thwarted more than 54,000 illegal immigration attempts, dismantled 74 criminal networks that had been active in smuggling and human trafficking, and seized more than 1,900 human trafficking vehicles.