LUXEMBOURG: Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri hailed Monday an EU offer of « advanced status » relations, saying Rabat would benefit from « all » the advantages of the bloc, except its institutions. EU foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, were to afford the new status to Morocco which, though it has no extra legal weight, will place Morocco a notch above the members of the EU’s « neighborhood policy » such as Egypt, Israel, Georgia and Ukraine.
It is a move sought by Rabat for years, not least because of the greater access it will provide for Moroccan products in the EU’s internal market.
« This European engagement on the advanced status is firstly proof of confidence … in Morocco’s efforts in terms of political reforms, consolidation of the rule of law, a better justice system, economic reforms, social cohesion and the fight against poverty, » the Moroccan minister told journalists in Luxembourg, ahead of the meeting which would confirm the new status.
« We will respond concretely to the definition of [ex-Italian Premier Romano] Prodi; ‘everything except the institutions,' » said Fihri, a reference to a 2003 speech by then-European Commission chief Prodi.
Under the terms of the advanced status, EU-Morocco summits will be held regularly to enhance political ties and Morocco will also participate in European civil and military crisis management operations.
The « advanced status » would also include the setting up of a « common economic space » based on the rules of the European Economic Area.
Morocco will also be able to participate in a number of European agencies, such as Europol, the European Air Security Agency and the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
To help it attain this « advanced status, » the EU will bolster its aid to Morocco, already the biggest recipient of European-neighborhood policy funds with $893 million earmarked for the 2007-10 period. – AFP