Spain and Morocco: trouble or potential?

Illegal migrants perch atop a border fence surrounding Spain’s African enclave, Melilla
Photos of African “illegals” atop the border fence at Melilla have become a shorthand for the migrant crisis; both Spain and Morocco are on the front line (source: dpa)
  • Spain and Morocco need to work together to stem illegal migration and terrorism
  • Yet political deadlock in Madrid and popular unrest in Morocco pose obstacles
  • Investment and trade is a joint interest, but powerful Spanish lobbies resist closer ties

The two antiestablishment parties that are to form Italy’s next government, Lega and the Five Star Movement, recently reached a coalition agreement that contains strong anti-immigrant provisions, ranging from exclusion from school grants to outright deportation.

This is a stark reminder of something that many in Europe would prefer to ignore. The heavy burden of controlling irregular immigration, terrorism and drug smuggling falls disproportionately on the European Union’s southern members, particularly Italy, Greece and Spain.

To stem these challenges, southern Europe will have to deal with its neighbors on the Mediterranean’s eastern and southern rim, including Turkey and Libya. If Italy shuts down the sub-Saharan immigration route through Libya, pressure will inevitably build up on Morocco and could possibly overflow. Cooperation between Morocco and Spain will be essential to avoid such a crisis.

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