The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, on Monday involved the European Union in the resolution of the migration crisis open between Ceuta and Morocco since last week. Upon his arrival at the European Council meeting, held in Brussels, Sánchez insisted that we are facing “unprecedented tensions between the EU and Morocco” – and not between Spain and its neighboring country. At the same time, he demanded that the “neighborly” relationship with Morocco be based on trust and respect for borders.
Sánchez insisted on presenting the crisis in Ceuta as a European matter and, hours before, the Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, had also remarked that this episode “affects the entire European community.” The Spanish Executive considers that the migratory phenomenon must be resolved from the solidarity of all EU member states and that this is everyone’s problem, not just the countries whose borders are, in turn, the outer perimeter of the Union, as is the case with Spain with Morocco.
In any case, the Government expresses satisfaction with the response of the community authorities before the wave of irregular migrants that entered Ceuta from Morocco. Last week, the president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed her “solidarity”; the Community Vice President, Margaritis Schinas, recalled that Ceuta “is a European border”; and Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson urged Morocco to “avoid irregular departures.” “I appreciate the forceful and firm response,” Sánchez said this Monday.
However, not all EU countries have expressed the same position. On Saturday, the French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, accused countries like Spain and Italy of “badly controlling” irregular migration.
The controversy of aid
President Sánchez also argued that Spain is Morocco’s “best ally” to “defend” its interests within the European Union. In the Government they remember that Spain is the greatest supporter of Morocco because Spanish positions always defend reaching agreements with that country. In this sense, the high representative of the European Union for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said on Monday that the “effort” and “interest” of Spain contributed decisively to the granting of community aid in recent years.
Asked about these funds in an interview with Onda Cero, Borrell added that the aid Morocco receives from the European institutions “has a purpose” and “is not unconditional”. “Part” of those funds, he added, are “specifically” destined to control illegal emigration and to guarantee respect for borders. Borrell made it clear that the “objective” of the European Union is not to suspend aid, but he did emphasize that “there is some aid conditioned by behavior”, such as “containing migration.”
The also former Spanish Foreign Minister estimated at “around 380 million” the aid that Morocco receives to contain illegal migration and supervising its border with Spain, which in turn is the external border of the Union, and emphasized the “absolute solidarity” of Brussels with the member states when they face a “conflict” with neighboring states, as now happens to Spain.
Despite repeatedly insisting on the European dimension of the crisis with Morocco, Sánchez does not plan to ask for an express debate on these tensions, among other factors because it considers that the situation has improved and is evolving favorably. In any case, it is possible that he refers to the episode in Ceuta tonight, when Italy asks to debate the migration issue in depth at the next Council, a request that Spain plans to support. It is in this context that, according to the sources consulted, the leader of the Spanish Executive could refer to this matter.
What is certain is that community leaders will discuss the “hijacking” of a plane by Belarus to stop the opposition Raman Protasevich. Sánchez called this episode “unacceptable” and considered it “important to condemn these events” and demand that the “Belarusian regime” release Protasevich. In the Government they consider that the facts are totally intolerable and it is not ruled out that in the course of the Council some type of sanction is agreed, something that –in principle– Spain would not oppose. “We are going to see what measures we can take to sanction a regime that does not obey democratic parameters,” Sánchez stressed.