The European Parliament recriminates Morocco for the use of people as a political weapon

The European Parliament has ratified the resolution proposed by the Spanish MEPs, after being amended several times, to denounce Morocco for its actions
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PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   The European Parliament

The European Parliament on Thursday recriminates Morocco for sending massive numbers of migrants, especially minors, to the autonomous city of Ceuta. The Strasbourg plenary debated on Thursday the crisis that occurred in Ceuta on 17 May when nearly 9,000 people crossed the border from Morocco in the face of passivity on the part of the Alawi police.

A resolution was passed in a motion with 397 votes in favour, 85 against and 196 abstentions, showing MEPs' rejection of Rabat's strategy and condemning it for putting the lives of thousands of minors at risk in response to Spain's gesture of attending to the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali. They expressed their "rejection of Morocco's use of border controls and migration, and in particular unaccompanied minors, as a means of exerting political pressure against a Member State of the Union". 

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - King Mohammed VI

The resolution agreed by the main groups in the European Parliament "deplores in particular the fact that children, unaccompanied minors and families have taken part in the mass crossing of the border between Morocco and the Spanish city of Ceuta, clearly endangering their lives and safety". It also "urges Morocco to respect its long-standing commitment to enhanced cooperation on border management and migratory mobility, in a spirit of cooperation and dialogue" and "stresses the importance of strengthening the partnership between the Union and Morocco, which must take into account the needs of both parties in a balanced and equitable manner".

The joint motion of the PP, Socialists, Liberals and Greens deplores the worsening diplomatic and political crisis that "undermines the multidimensional strategy and the privileged neighbourly relations between Morocco, the European Union and its Member States". In this sense, according to Europa Press, the MEPs defend the diplomatic route to address the disagreements between Madrid and Rabat and call for a reduction of tensions, as well as the resumption of constructive dialogue within the EU-Morocco partnership.

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AP/JAVIER FERGO - Moroccan men and boys sit as the Spanish army cordons off the area at the border of Morocco and Spain, in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Furthermore, Europe once again stresses that Ceuta is an external border of the EU, and its protection and security is a matter for the entire Union. It also acknowledged the reaction of the Frontex agency, which offered support to the Spanish authorities in managing the situation and asked the European Commission for funding to take in the unaccompanied minors.

Despite the criticisms, MEPs welcomed Morocco's announcement to facilitate the return of the identified minors, applauding the cooperation between Spain and Morocco to achieve the repatriation of the children and return them to their families, following international standards for the benefit of minors.

The initiative came from Spanish MEP Jordi Cañas of the Ciudadanos party, who raised the need to bring last month's migration crisis in Ceuta to the plenary, especially the use of minors. "We cannot allow Morocco to think that this is a form of diplomacy," said Cañas on the eve of the parliamentary debate. "The EU cannot allow the normalisation of the use of minors as an instrument of political pressure", he said.

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco

According to Efe, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Wednesday that the Spanish government "is trying to Europeanise the bilateral crisis between Morocco and Spain". Bourita believes that with the departure of Saharawi leader Brahim Ghali from Spanish territory, the crisis "did not end on 1 June". "The crisis exists because its root causes continue", Bourita added to the media after the visit of his Hungarian colleague Peter Cialto.

With regard to the Saharawi conflict, the trigger for the crisis between Morocco and Spain, the European Parliament reiterates the EU's "consolidated" position, stressing that it is in line with international law and UN resolutions.