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European Commission - Press release

Morocco: fresh support for equality and rural development

Brussels, 17 August 2011 - Today the European Union has approved the 2011 Annual Action Programme for Morocco. Beneficiaries of this fresh support include those living in the rural region of Al Hoceima (€19 million) in northern Morocco, which is an isolated area, socially and economically more backward than the rest of the country, and where cannabis-growing is widespread. The programme will help improve the living conditions and incomes of the local population by supporting decentralisation and local development, job creation and social development, and environmental issues.

A further €35 million will be used for implementation of the Moroccan government’s recently adopted Agenda for Equality between Women and Men, mainly by mounting information campaigns (including opinion-makers, parliamentarians and leaders of industry) and creating the conditions for women's participation in political governance and public life in general on an equal footing with men. This programme is designed to ensure that Moroccans enjoy a fairer share of the benefits of growth.

Financing of €85 million is allocated to support Morocco’s achievement of ‘advanced status’. Advanced status was granted by the EU in October 2008 in response to Morocco's desire to accelerate the process of rapprochement with the EU that started with the entry into force of the Association Agreement in 2000. The programme will back the sectoral reforms and commitments made by Morocco in the roadmap to advanced status.

Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, said: ‘With its support for the Agenda for Equality the European Commission is backing Morocco's desire to move forward with the implementation of democratic reforms, which kicked off on 1 July with the approval by referendum of the proposed revision of the Constitution. Both the programme of development for the Al Hoceima region and the support for achievement of advanced status will directly enhance the daily lives of many Moroccans, giving them a tangible example of the preferential relations between Morocco and the EU.

The reforms supported by the EU are fully in line with the strategic priorities set out in two recent joint communications from the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. ‘A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean’1 and ‘A new response to a changing neighbourhood’2.

Support for the dynamics of integrated development in rural provinces and territories of northern Morocco (Al Hoceima). This €19 million programme is designed to facilitate a sustainable improvement in the living conditions and incomes of the rural population of Al Hoceima province by supporting the dynamics of participatory and inclusive local development, enhancing the roles and capacities of stakeholders, making the local economy more dynamic, promoting social development and conserving and upgrading ecosystems.

For example, the programme will support participatory planning processes at municipal level, investments in small-scale social infrastructure and sustainable social structures, measures to raise rural household incomes in the form of investments and technical support for agriculture, non‑industrial fishing, crafts and rural tourism, with special emphasis on the economic integration of young people and women.

The €35 million support programme for promoting equity and equality between women and men will support implementation of Morocco's Agenda for Equality. It specifically aims to raise awareness among the Moroccan population (including opinion-makers, parliamentarians and leaders of industry) of the culture of equality, to improve the legal protection of women, to mainstream gender issues into the different institutions and organisations, and to strengthen the conditions for women's participation in political governance and public life in general on an equal footing with men.

The ‘Making a Success of Advanced Status’ programme with financing of €85 million is a tangible expression of the closer relations between the EU and Morocco in the 'Advanced Status' framework. It will be the main vehicle for cooperation to support the strengthening and deepening of the partnership. It will contribute to the implementation of key commitments in the advanced‑status roadmap, specifically regulatory convergence with the EU acquis, the cornerstone of this process of rapprochement on the economic and social fronts, in the framework of an enhanced political dialogue. Under the programme there will be financing for activities in the fields of industrial standards, transport, fisheries, higher education, employment, water and consumer protection.

For more information


European Neighbourhood Policy


Michael Mann (+32 2 299 97 80)

Anca Paduraru (+32 2 296 64 30)

1 :

COM(2011) 200, 8 March 2011.

2 :

COM(2011) 303, 25 May 2011.

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