Morocco Urges EU, Arab World to Face Shared Challenges Hand in Hand

Some of the common challenges include the global economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise in extremism.

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Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, on Monday called for the development of a multidimensional and united approach between Arab countries and the EU to meet common challenges.

The approach should consider “civilization and human dimensions in order to meet current challenges and lay the groundwork for sustainable development,” Bourita said during the fifth EU-Arab World Summit. The event takes place virtually from November 9-10.

The Moroccan foreign minister began his remarks by recalling King Mohammed VI’s speech in February 2019 during the first EU-Arab World Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The royal speech, read on the King’s behalf by Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, called for a “radical rethinking” of EU-Arab relations.

“Euro-Arab cooperation … requires an objective and calm assessment of its current achievements, a reconsideration of its axes, the definition of its strategic priorities, and the improvement of its working methods,” Bourita underlined.

Read also: King Mohammed VI Calls for ‘Radical Rethinking’ of Euro-Arab Relations

The Moroccan diplomat, however, stressed that the reform of dialogue should not be prioritized over pressing issues and challenges, such as the global economic recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resurgence of extremist threats.

“These challenges cannot be ignored during the quest for a comprehensive and multidimensional partnership between the Arab world and the EU,” he said.

Illustrating the severity of COVID-19’s economic impact on countries around the world, Bourita presented the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) most recent forecasts.

The IMF expects international economic growth to decrease by 3% in 2020, including a 7.5% recession in the EU and a 3.3% decline in the Middle East. The financial institution also predicts the global volume of international trade to drop by 11% this year.

“These worrying forecasts oblige us, in light of our geographic proximity and common challenges, to assume responsibility and develop a united approach animated by our faith in common destiny,” Bourita urged.

“We need to prepare a better future for the children in our region,” he continued.

According to Bourita, some of the areas that can greatly benefit from EU-Arab cooperation are financial and economic policies, as well as migration.

The two parties can also benefit from the experience of already-existing dialogue structures, such as the 5+5 Dialogue and the Union for the Mediterranean, Bourita concluded.