“The EU has “trivialised” its relations with the African continent

Henri Malosse: 'We aim for better regulations on par with the needs of  civil society' – EURACTIV.com
Exclusive interview with Henri Malosse, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jean Monnet Association and former President of the Economic and Social Committee,

Q: What is your opinion of the European Union’s relations with Africa in general and Morocco in particular, given its geographical position?

Answer. In fact, even if through the famous Yaoundé, Lomé and Maghreb Conventions, the European Community has managed to preserve the original relations based on a common past and reciprocity. Since the 1990s, the EU has ‘trivialised’ its relations with the African continent, including Morocco, and has followed the practices of the United States, the IMF and the World Bank, proclaiming liberalism and free trade as the alpha and omega of its foreign policy, without taking account of the historical context and background.

The lack of sensitivity and attention to the history of Africa, and Morocco in particular, has led to a decline in interest in European political aspirations on the part of African countries, which has led to invasive Chinese influence, the return of Russia and, in the case of Morocco, the growing role of the United States.

The cooperation policies of the former European Communities were based on our common cultural heritage and fully respected the regained sovereignty of the former colonies by not interfering in their internal affairs. They supported the development of local resources, not export products. Today, the opposite is happening, with a ‘Western moralism’ that is not adapted to the traditions of these countries.

Question: As if Morocco somehow stands out among the countries of the African continent. How do you see this?

A: As an Atlantic power, Morocco and its king shine on the African continent. The EU does not give it the importance it deserves, as we have seen from the way Brussels mocked the membership application submitted by the father of the current king, Hassan II. Morocco has always wanted to become a privileged partner of Europe on the African continent, something that Brussels has never recognised. However, the US has recognised that the Kingdom of Morocco is undoubtedly a driving force for peace, stabilisation and progress in Africa.

Q: What do you think about the progress of development projects in Morocco, particularly in the southern regions?

A: Morocco, through a culture of dialogue and consensus led by the King and his government, has managed to overcome the shock of the Arab Spring and mobilise its vitality, first and foremost for human development, but also for industrial, agricultural and services development, which is very remarkable. Without having a very rich subsoil, it has managed to raise the living standards of its inhabitants considerably, reduce unemployment and give a future to the new generations. Of course, there is still much to be done, but what is most striking is the cohesion of the country in relation to its neighbours. The country’s development in this respect can be seen as a mobilising element that has created a real popular momentum.

Q: Could you give us your opinion on the proposal made by Morocco, which is nothing other than an autonomy plan to resolve the pseudo-conflict in Western Sahara. Could this plan be the solution to this long-standing problem?

Answer. It has been artificially maintained by the Algerian neighbourhood for political purposes, without any real concern for the well-being of the inhabitants of Western Sahara. Since the ‘Green March’, Morocco has been making efforts for the economic and social development of the region, which a stump of a state dependent on Algeria would have neither the means nor the will to do, especially given the militant nature of the independence movement.

Autonomous status within the Kingdom of Morocco, whose historical legitimacy over this territory is not in dispute, is today the most realistic solution to this long-standing unresolved decolonisation conflict. A plan for autonomy under international control, in consultation with the citizens, would guarantee a real future for the Saharawi people and would avert the risk of the emergence of Islamist terrorism. The US support for this plan today is significant, and it is time for the EU to recognise that it is the only viable way out of a conflict that has gone on for too long.

Thank you for the interview.

(Henri Malosse was awarded the French Medal of Honour by the former President of the French Republic, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, in Brussels on 15 October 2014)

Endre Barcs