– The one across the sea –
(When I was in Rabat, Morocco – city where I grew up – I visited the delegation of the European Union to Morocco*, where I interviewed this woman : Safaa, communication officer. Many things I found amazing in this encounter : how welcoming she and the delegation were, how driven Safaa was by her mission to help Morocco progress, whilst believing in the European project – and finally her words, in which I recognised myself. After all, we do share love for the same things, we work towards and hope for the same, only separated by a sea.)
11 : 58 . (I asked her : Why work for the E.U. ? Why believe in it as a Moroccan? – precisely because this is a question many ask me in Brussels)
Seen from a Moroccan eye, the European project is pretty incredible. Here as in many other countries, we are still talking about borders, about sovereignty, about conflicts. Whereas in Europe, we have a continent that has re-built itself after destructive wars and that is now building a future that goes beyond the political will – a future about citizens wanting to coexist and who believe in their diversity. Morocco is also united in its diversity: we are a country deeply anchored in our African, Berber, Judeo – Muslim roots – that is quite a mix ! This makes Moroccans proud. This value of multiculturalism and diversity we do share with Europe, among many other things. Yet, on a personal level when I compare our conditions to those of Europeans, who live in remarkable conditions of human dignity and freedom, I sometimes envy them. I speak mostly as a woman. The simple fact that, as of today I do not feel comfortable wearing a bikini at the beach without receiving dirty looks from strangers, says a lot about the prevailing Moroccan mentality. I am hoping this will change with time. Of course I see that our country is progressing in so many areas and I also see how relationship between the EU and Morocco can be beneficial for these advancements – and I am not talking only about diplomacy relations. There are training programmes and initiatives funded by the European Union here, such as vocational trainings in the field of energy efficiency which goes in the continuity of what Morocco does in terms of renewable energies – solar energy particularly. Have you seen the Noor station ? (a solar power station based in Ouarzazate, Morocco). It is normal for Morocco to gradually move towards the creation of human resources capable of responding to the energy market – and the EU is accompanying us in doing so, with budget support but also with support on the ground. It is simple: I feel my work is serving both my country and the EU; because the two are partners before all.
* The EU is represented through some 140 EU Delegations and Offices around the world. They are part of the European External Action Service (EEAS), introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force in 2009, aiming at making the EU’s external action more coherent and efficient.