EU financial aid for Morocco, delivered through direct transfers to its treasury from 2014 to 2018, provided limited added value and ability to support reforms in the country, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA). The European Commission addressed the needs identified in national and EU strategies, but it spread the funding across too many areas, which may have weakened its impact, say the auditors. They also found the Commission’s management of budget support programmes for the country was hampered by weaknesses in the way they were designed, implemented and monitored, as well as in the assessment of results.
The EU is Morocco’s biggest donor of development aid. For 2014-2020, the Commission programmed €1.4 billion of aid, mainly for the three priority sectors: social services, rule of law and sustainable growth. By the end of 2018, it had concluded contracts for €562 million and made payments of almost €206 million under its budget support instrument, which is aimed at promoting reforms and sustainable development goals and makes up 75 % of EU annual spending for the country.
The auditors assessed whether the Commission’s management of EU budget support for the priority sectors in Morocco from 2014 to 2018 was effective and whether the objectives were achieved. They examined the areas of health, social protection, justice and private sector development.
“EU budget support for Morocco did not provide sufficient support for the country’s reforms and progress on key challenges was limited,” said Hannu Takkula, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “To maximise the impact of EU funding, the Commission should focus support on fewer sectors and strengthen the political and policy dialogue with Morocco.”