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Brussels, 20 January 2012

Š.Füle in Morocco: We stand behind your reform efforts

Rabat (20th January) – „Morocco is doing well in the reform process and the European Union appreciates this progress,“ Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said during his visit to Rabat. „I came here with a clear message that the Commission stands firmly behind your reform efforts and expect these efforts to be continued,“ he stressed when meeting the Head of the Government Abdelilah Benkirane and several members of the cabinet, as well as the leaders of both Chambers of the Parliament.

Commissioner Füle held talks with the Moroccan counterparts on the same day as the Government presented its program to the Parliament. Commissioner Füle was the first high-ranking EU official visiting the country after the November legislative elections and after the appointment of the new Government headed by Mr Benkirane.

“I can express my satisfaction, that barely one year after my last visit to Rabat, several important changes occured: a new constitution was approved in the July referendum, free and fair elections took place and now the new government is taking the reform agenda forward,“ Mr Füle said and added that the EU was keen to see this reform agenda to succeed, while continuing to provide its support based on the principles of new neighbourhood policy. „The extent of our support and increased cooperation should reflect the needs and ambitions of our partners. For more progress in democratic and economic reforms there will be more EU assistance,“ the Commissioner said, acknowledging that much has been achieved in Morocco so far but that there are still important reforms to be implemented to ensure lasting stability and a stronger and more inclusive economic development so that the legitimate aspirations of the people could be met.

He was reassured by the determination of his interlocutors to continue and to strengthen the transformation of their country with a „new generation of reforms“. The partners on the Moroccan side expressed willingness to increase bilateral cooperation and dialogue on a wide range of issues, underlining that Morocco would be a strong and reliable partner for the EU.

In addition to the Head of Government Mr Füle held talks with the speaker of the Chamber of Representatives Karim Ghellab, speaker of the Chamber of Councillors Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah, Minister of Foreign Affairs Saâdeddine El Othmanim, Minister of Economy and Finance Nizar Baraka and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Aziz Akhannouch.

Commissioner Füle and Minister Baraka launched two projects financed from the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility to help Morocco to reduce its energy dependency and increase efficiency in water delivery : “Both projects amount to 37 millions € in EU grants but they have a much higher value as they are leveraging large loans from EU development banks, for a total amount of more than 600 million euros. These are just small examples of the advantages stemming from our support to the transformation of Morocco,” Mr Füle said. The first project is for the Ouarzazate Solar Power Plant (€ 30 mil) and the other one for Drinking Water Efficiency Programme (€7 mil).

During his visit to Rabat Commissioner Füle also met representatives of civil society and discussed with them the extent and the results of the reforms undertaken in Morocco so far, in order to gain a better understanding of citizens' aspirations. The Commissioner explained that, under the new European Neighbourhood Policy, there is now much a greater focus on the EU´s support for and partnership with civil society, which has a key role in the sustainability of the democratisation process.

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