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With the signing of an association agreement in 1996, coming into force in 2000, the cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and the EU has expanded to include politics and security. This Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement aims to provide an appropriate framework for political dialogue between the EU and its partners in the Mediterranean Basin. The principle behind this is to work for the development of this region in a climate of peace, security and stability, in accordance with democratic principles and fundamental rights.
This Euro-Mediterranean partnership has three main components:
Cooperation between the EU and Morocco was further strengthened by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) launched by the EU in 2003, based on mutual responsibility and shared commitment to the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Within this framework, an action plan has been implemented in all areas of cooperation. The ENP has given more permanence and structure to the dialogue between the EU and Morocco. Technical committees of experts from the European institutions and the Moroccan authorities meet regularly, focusing on subjects such as stronger political dialogue, justice and security, and human rights.
Morocco has benefited from an advanced status with the EU since 2008. Its objectives are:
The European Parliament has played a stronger role in the partnership with Morocco since the Lisbon Treaty. This has stimulated parliamentary exchange, in particular with the EU-Morocco Joint Parliamentary Committee. The European Economic and Social Committee has also signed a partnership agreement with the Moroccan Economic and Social Council. There has been an increased exchange with, and support for, Moroccan civil society.
Economic relations between Morocco and the EU are of long standing. One of the main commercial agreements, made in 1976 and brought in force in 1978, includes economic and financial aid in addition to commerce. It is under this agreement that industrial products from Morocco enter the EU at zero duty.
Agreements between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, which came into force in 2000 and cover the trade of goods, have been supplemented by other agreements concerning agricultural products, services and investment, accreditation and the acceptance of industrial products, as well as the establishment of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs).
In addition to its political and human dimensions, the advanced status granted to Morocco in 2008 includes a broad economic, financial and social section. Within this framework, the EU and Morocco have confirmed their desire to establish a common economic area characterised by the strong integration of the Moroccan economy within the EU economy.
In 2009, the EU committed to a four-year budgetary support programme devoting €60 million to the promotion of investments and exports in Morocco.
The ‘Making a Success of Advanced Status II’ programme - with a sum of €87 million - launched in 2013, aimed to support the efforts for a progressive integration of the Moroccan economy into the European single market.
The EU is Morocco’s leading trade partner. In 2012, the EU imported goods from Morocco worth just over €9 billion and exported almost €7 billion worth to Morocco. The total share of Moroccan exports to the EU is 56 %, and its share in imports is 47.3 %.
Morocco’s trade with the EU is growing fast: between 2005 and 2012, the volume of trade between the EU and Morocco increased by over 24 %, reaching a value of €26 billion in 2012.
Following the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership (Barcelona 1995), the association agreement between the EU and Morocco came into force in 2000. It defines the framework for trade relations and other forms of bilateral cooperation.
Free-trade agreement for industrial products
The association agreement, under Title II on the ‘free movement of goods’, establishes a free-trade zone, which will take effect after a 12-year period of transition. The free trade zone between Morocco and the EU came into effect on 1 March 2012. The DG Trade website contains all the information on the EU-Morocco Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.
The ‘Customs and Excise Administration’ website provides further information on the abolishment of customs duties and taxes having equivalent effect on imports in Morocco.
Morocco-EU agreement on agricultural and fishery products: towards greater liberalisation measures
The ‘Agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products’, which came into force on 1 October 2012, aims for complete liberalisation, with the exception of products considered by the two parties to be of a sensitive nature, which remain subject to special conditions.
As stipulated in the agricultural agreement, negotiations for an agreement on the protection of geographical indications are under way.
This agreement constitutes an important step forward in terms of enhancing production and improving quality in Morocco. It goes without saying that the implementation of this agreement and the quality label drive will have positive effects on trade.
Negotiations for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA)
The document on advanced status indicates that: ‘The DCFTA will be achieved through a series of measures forming an indivisible and coherent whole in such sectors as: access to public markets, facilitation of access to the market for industrial products (harmonisation of Moroccan standards legislation), the free movement of capital and payments, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, industrial and intellectual property rights, competition policy, consumer protection, customs and trade facilitation, trade and sustainable development, rapid alert or consultation mechanism.’
In addition to the simple concept of trade liberalisation and abolishing customs duties with respect to goods, the DCFTA favours closer economic integration by reducing non-tariff barriers, liberalising the trade in services, ensuring the protection of investments and standardising regulations in several commercial and economic areas.
Morocco is the first partner in the Mediterranean region with whom the EU has initiated such negotiations.
Protocol on dispute settlement: establishment of arbitration procedures
The Agreement between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco establishing a Dispute Settlement Mechanism, which came into force on 1 November 2012, aims to prevent and resolve any commercial disputes between countries (EU-Morocco), relating to the interpretation and application of the commercial provisions of the association agreement, with a view to a mutually acceptable solution.