Senior Spanish and Moroccan ministers signed a deal Wednesday, July 25, paving the way for up to 20,000 Moroccans a year to immigrate to Spain in search of work.
"It means more respect for people: dignity for those who want to find a job in Spain. The agreement regulates flows between Morocco and Spain in a reasonable way," Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy said. "We don't want any illegal immigrants upsetting the Spanish labor market," he added.
The agreement, signed by Rajoy and Morocco's Social Development and Solidarity Minister Abbas Al-Fassi, will allow between 12,000 and 20,000 Moroccans into Spain each year in search or work.
Nearly 240,000 Moroccans officially live in Spain, but the number of illegal residents is thought to be up to three times that number, representing Spain's main foreign community.
Under the agreement, Madrid will provide Rabat with the number of workers it needs and in which regions they could work, while a further deal will regulate seasonal workers. Thousands of people flood into southern Spain to work in the fruit and vegetable harvests.
Al-Fassi said he hoped the agreement would provide hope to young Moroccans, used to the images of shipwrecks from failed attempts to cross into Spain. "The sight of shipwrecks is very sad for the Moroccan people. The agreement is welcome because it will reduce unemployment. It's good for young people who will see hope in it," he said.
Madrid has already signed a similar deal with Ecuador and Colombia. The deal comes despite Spain registering unemployment figures of 8.76 percent in May, representing the highest jobless rate in the European Union. ― (AFP, Madrid)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )