Emmanuel Dupuy: Pedro Sanchez had every interest in internationalizing the muddle with Morocco to hide his own mistakes

Is the crisis between Morocco and Spain beneficial for Franco-Moroccan relations? I’m not sure it’s that beneficial. France and Morocco are important partners. The rise of bilateral cooperation between Spain and Morocco has obviously come at the expense of France. The partnership between Morocco and Spain is 12 billion euros (132 billion dirhams), France is only second, with 9.92 billion euros in 2020 (107 billion dirhams). I would therefore say that there is a need for these three partners to come to an understanding, obviously bilaterally but also between them. Indeed, their agendas in terms of the fight against terrorism, cooperation on migration, economic cooperation and the African agenda are obviously marked by these convergences. So, obviously the quarrel between Spain and Morocco does not suit anyone and even less France, perhaps that is why we must perceive the will on the part of President Macron through his minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian to propose mediation between Nasser Bourita and Gonzalez Laya so that they can talk to each other without hurting each other. I fear that it will be a little difficult in the current context, but in any case, it is a reality which makes that France is obviously very annoyed… It is all the more annoyed, that this crisis follows other crises , like that between Morocco and Germany. How do you analyze the position of the European Parliament, which got its nose in a bilateral affair between Rabat and Madrid? It is not the European Parliament as a whole but a part of the European parliamentarians who voted for a resolution supported by certain European political parties and not by all. We must salute those who voted against and those who were offended by this agenda which, indeed, takes the relationship between Morocco and Spain a little hostage. Pedro Sanchez had every interest in internationalizing the confusion to hide his own mistakes or try to disguise what appears to be a diplomatic fault, namely the invitation on April 17 of Brahim Ghali on the sly or in any case outside of any protocol . The European Parliament was a little invited into this agenda, but after all, this is not the first time that there has been this Europeanization of the agenda. We have of course in mind the criticisms, as had been formulated by Elva Johansson, the Swedish Commissioner for Home Affairs, or her Greek colleague, Margaritis Scinas, vice-president in charge of the protection of the European way of life who had criticized the way with which the Moroccan authorities had managed the migration issue. In the meantime, when we can criticize Europeanization for political ends, we should also be happy when the European Union welcomes the Moroccan position. I am mindful of the statement of the Neighborhood Commissioner who welcomed the decision of HM King Mohammed VI to readmit unaccompanied minors in an irregular situation. This was unanimously welcomed by the EU. We should be offended when there is a politically oriented Europeanization to try to drown the fish, but we should be congratulated when the EU recognizes the important role played by Morocco in the migration issue. There too, there is a sort of hiatus or a sort of difference of assessment: the European Union contributes only 20% of the real cost assumed by Morocco in the fight against immigration, 300 million euros, while ‘we know that this amount is closer to 1 billion to 1, 2 billion euros.   How do you analyze the current situation in Mali? The situation in the Sahel is simple. First, Operation Barkhane is not an operation that will end immediately, it is an operation that will evolve. It is not overnight that the French soldiers will leave Malian territory, it is an evolution which is in the order of things. During the Pot summit in January 2020, the Nouakchott summit in July 2020, then that of N’djamena in February 2021, the G5 Sahel countries were convinced and convinced of the fact that we must move towards a resolution of the security issue and towards interoperability between them. Morocco and Algeria obviously were part of it without forgetting Senegal. Has Europe put in place tools to boost economic cooperation between Europe and Africa? It has put in place all the elements in favor of this operation, even if we speak of a unitary or unified Europe, taking into account the importance of the trans-Mediterranean relationship between the African continent and the European continent. In other words, there are undoubtedly more southern, Mediterranean and African developments, since the Portuguese presidency, which began last December and which will end in July with a Mediterranean dimension perhaps less African but nevertheless Mediterranean. This reorients the European Union to its south when Slovenia took the presidency on July 1, 2021. The prospect of the French presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2022 will correspond to an alignment of the planets. They align in a way with the presidency of the African Union assumed by Macky Sall at the same time as President Macron will be president of the European Union. So, we will have a favorable configuration here: the transverse Europe / Africa, the importance of the Mediterranean, the importance of Africa and Southern Europe. Added to this is the importance of the consideration of Latin Europe vis-à-vis its south and therefore the north and west of the African continent which will find an echo with the presidency of President Macky Sall, with there too a conjunction of the stars and the effective establishment of the African continental free trade area. This implementation is in its infancy but it will nevertheless begin with a common currency for all the countries of the West, countries of the West African monetary economic zone (ECOWAS). It is a very southern agenda, but you are right to recall that there is still a simple hiatus, 30% of African exports go to the European Union while only 3% go down from the European Union to the Union. African. It is this hiatus and this asymmetry that it is imperative to try to correct by balancing them with the establishment of a logic which should take more into account the fact that the Mediterranean is a bridge, an opportunity; it should absolutely not be an insurmountable wall, for goods, goods as well as for people. My last question will relate to the proximity in relations between France and Morocco. In your opinion, will they be able to boost this economic cooperation between Europe and Africa? Yes, because France needs to have pivotal states, states on which to rely in order to be able to open up to African markets. So, there are several, Tunisia also plays this role, Algeria after all aims to play it despite an economic situation still a little disturbed by the health crisis of course, the vertiginous fall or the “yoyo” of prices. fuels and then obviously by democratic deficiencies. We have further confirmation of this with the very low rate of participation in the early legislative elections. Yes, of course, Morocco has everything to be a pivot, a hub, which would allow a fulcrum along the 3,500 kilometers of coastline from Europe to Africa, from the western Mediterranean to the South Atlantic. It is necessary to take into account a virtuous axis which allows companies, men, strategies or European philosophy to conceive that it is probably in West Africa that its most loyal partners are to be found. There is a convergence of interests between African ECOWAS countries and their neighborhood. Mauritania intends to return to ECOWAS, Morocco quite rightly requested its membership in ECOWAS, this dates back to June 2017 but it is still relevant today. And even a country like Tunisia is seeking the status that Morocco currently enjoys, that of observer member of ECOWAS. Yes of course France has every interest in being much more active, much more resilient, and much more dynamic, relying on Morocco for an obvious reason. The stability and strength of French companies in Morocco are also a reality that must be borne in mind. Nearly 950 French companies work and are located in Morocco, more than 100,000 direct jobs therefore come from the French establishment. It is more or less our system in Africa. Let me be precise: there are 950 French companies in Morocco and 1,100 French companies across the continent. We can see that Morocco offers a very good springboard thanks to the solidity of its banking sector and its insurance sector. The stability links and the financial guarantee offered by the Casablanca financial center aim to accelerate Morocco’s economic transformation, with the logical implementation therefore in terms of market capitalization. The African continent must strengthen the capital market, from this point of view, the financial center of Casablanca is undoubtedly the safest of the whole of the African continent. Interview by Youssef Lahlali