The EU announced on 14 December that it would commit an additional €118 million (US$133 million) to help Morocco tackle human trafficking and strengthen border management. The approved projects mean that the EU has pledged €148 million (US$167 million) to Morocco in 2018. This is approximately 25% of the funds earmarked for North Africa from the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa which is an EU funding mechanism aimed at reducing the level of illegal migration coming from Africa. New projects include: €110 million (US$124 million) to help Morocco reinforce its borders and improve its border management system; and €8 million (US$9 million) to improve its regional co-operation for border security.
The EU also announced that had adopted a €182 million (US$206 million) economic development package that included: €50 million (US$56.5 million) in support to Morocco’s de-centralisation scheme; €62 million (US$70 million) for good governance projects; and €70 million (US$79 million) on economic development, including youth inclusion, private sector development, and rule of law reforms.
For the EU to combine announcements about border security assistance with economic development illustrates how closely linked it sees these two issues. On the one hand, this is true: Gallup estimates that roughly a third of all 15-29 year old Moroccans want to permanently leave the country. This makes it an origin country for migration and the EU’s development assistance is to offer opportunities for Moroccans to stay and work in their country of birth. On the other hand, however, Morocco is also a transit country for Sub-Saharan African migrants so it also needs border management assistance. It additionally benefits from Europe conflating economic development with migration because it gives it greater freedom to request funds for a variety of government programmes.