Brussels, 5 November 2007
Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner with responsibility for external relations and neighbourhood policy is going to Rabat on 7 November. She will be meeting the new Prime Minister, Mr Abbas El Fassi, and will discuss with him the implementation of the decisions taken by the EU-Morocco Association Council on 23 July this year which opened the debate on the ‘advanced status’ requested by Morocco. The Commissioner will also meet Mr Taieb Fassi Fihri, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. During the visit the Commissioner will be announcing that in 2007 Morocco received a financial allocation of €190 million, including an additional €28 million under the governance facility recently set up for the countries covered by the neighbourhood policy and intended to boost implementation of the EU-Morocco Action Plan.
"Morocco is a key partner for the European Union. It has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the neighbourhood policy and has managed to make maximum use of the possibilities available. The joint reflection process we have been engaged in since last July should enable us to take decisions on the future development of our bilateral relations, with special reference to Morocco's request for an ‘advanced status’" said Benita Ferrero-Waldner. "I am going to Morocco to meet the new Prime Minister and certain ministers with an interest in our bilateral relations, and above all to begin work on translating these decisions into concrete action."
At the most recent meeting of the Association Council in July 2007, the European Union and Morocco decided to set up a working group to study ways of strengthening relations between the two parties. All the EU Member States plus the European Commission will be able to take part in this working group. The outcome of the joint reflections will be presented to the next meeting of the Association Council due to be held in the second half of 2008.
As regards EU financial assistance to Morocco, the Commission has decided to grant an additional allocation of €28 million in 2007 under the governance facility created under the neighbourhood policy. This additional allocation will help to support the many various reforms entered in the EU-Morocco action plan which have been launched by the Moroccan authorities. Morocco has an envelope of €654 million for the period 2007-2013, making it the principle beneficiary of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).
During her stay the Commissioner will also visit a training centre for
disabled children run by an association of local NGOs in a federation under
Handicap International. This centre is partially funded by the European