The European Union and Morocco signed a mobility partnership agreement on Friday to extend their cooperation to migration and the movement of people, it was announced Friday. The partnership was signed by Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Internal Affairs; Saad dine El Otmani, the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Ministers responsible for migration from the nine EU Member States participating in this partnership (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). "I am delighted that Morocco is the first country from the Mediterranean region to enter into a partnership of this kind with the EU. The formation of structural cooperation on migration and mobility is a turning point for our relationship with Morocco. We have today made a huge step forward and I hope that other partner countries will also follow suit," Malmstrom was quoted as saying after signing the agreement. The EU-Morocco mobility partnership establishes a set of political objectives and provides for a series of initiatives which are designed to ensure that the movement of persons is managed as effectively as possible. These measures include negotiations between the EU and Morocco on an agreement for facilitating the issuing of visas for certain groups of people, particularly students, researchers and business professionals. Negotiations will also continue on an agreement for the return of illegal migrants. One objective of the Partnership is to improve the information available to qualified Moroccan citizens on employment, education and training opportunities available in the EU and also to make mutual recognition of professional and university qualifications easier. Another objective is to support the integration of Moroccan citizens who regularly visit an EU Member State. As regards irregular migration, the EU and Morocco will work together in order to combat the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings and to provide assistance for victims of these crimes. They will work closely together in order to ensure that Morocco can establish a national asylum and international protection system. Morocco and the EU began a Dialogue on Migration, Mobility and Security in October 2011, and negotiations on the Political Declaration for the EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership were finalized on March 1, 2013 during a visit to Morocco by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Malmstrom. The Mobility Partnership with Morocco is the fifth of its kind, following those entered into with the Republic of Moldova and Cape Verde in 2008, with Georgia in 2009 and with Armenia in 2011. Negotiations with a view to entering into similar agreements with Azerbaijan have also begun, and discussions are in progress with other southern partners (Tunisia and Jordan). Mobility Partnerships provide a flexible and non-legally binding framework for ensuring that the movement of people between the EU and a third country can be managed effectively.
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