Having temporarily resolved this issue to the Moroccan government’s benefit—with the European parliament in early 2019 accepting amended agricultural and fisheries agreements that extend to the Western Sahara—the Association Council provided a forum to discuss joint priorities for the EU-Morocco relationship for the coming years. They laid out an ambitious joint declaration covering a wide range of issues including shared values, trade and development, security and foreign policy, migration, and climate change.

However, as the EU moves to strengthen its relationship with the Moroccan government, an increasingly large part of the Moroccan population appears to reject that government and the wider political order in their country. Initial Arab Barometer data, also published on June 27, shows that 49 percent of Moroccan adults polled supported rapid political change, the highest amongst the various countries polled by the Arab Barometer. This rejection of the status quo is also reflected by a steady stream of protests and strikes despite growing repression by the Moroccan authorities.

Furthermore, 44 percent of Moroccan adults polled by the Arab Barometer were considering emigrating, while the figure rose to 70 percent for adults under 30. Moroccans have been leaving the country in large numbers–both via regular and irregular avenues. This includes a longstanding and massive brain drain, with 600 engineers leaving the country each year, 38,000 Moroccans currently studying in France (of whom few return), and 7,000 Moroccan doctors working in France. At the other extreme, irregular migration has been rising; 13,076 Moroccan migrants entered Spain in 2018, making them the largest nationality at 20 percent of the total, compared with 2016, when Moroccans were only the seventh-largest nationality.