The migration issue in the Mediterranean region has been widely monitored and assessed in the last decade. Its various socioeconomic causes and impacts—demographic, social, political and economic—have been largely analysed, and, despite differences in the approaches, there has been broad consensus as to the conclusions: that by the turn of the twenty-first century migration would become an explosive issue for the Mediterranean region, and that today we are facing the consequences. The risk described as a ‘demographic bomb’ is no longer a risk; it has exploded and can be seen in the daily dramas along the Italian and Spanish coasts of the Mediterranean basin. The root of the issue can be mainly attributed to the impacts of globalisation: economic marginalisation of the peripheral areas and the political destabilisation of both the countries and the region at large. The failure of the Barcelona Process, followed by the decreasing influence of the EU, has distorted the regional development process from a process of Euro-Mediterranean ‘partnership’ for a ‘shared prosperity’ to the implementation of a ‘free trade area’ and neoliberal policies, with negative social impacts certain to follow. It is demonstrated that migrations from southern Mediterranean countries are the results of both push marginalisation and destabilisation) and pull (economic concentration and wealth in the North) factors. This paper is part of a larger research project exploring the establishment of new economic–financial links through the actions of migrants between two European countries (Denmark and Italy) and two Arab countries (Morocco and Tunisia), and the problems and benefits that have arisen or have the potential to do so. This paper specifically presents the results for Morocco and focuses on: (i) the amount and direction of the remittances, (ii) their destination in the recipient areas, (iii) their role in local development and, finally, (iv) possible lessons to be learned for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Though remittances represent a very important contribution to Morocco’s balance of payments, their role at the microeconomic level is still little explored. By presenting original empirical material collected during a field study conducted by the author in two rural provinces, some important conclusions can be drawn regarding the microeconomic impact of remittances on local development. Qualitative research was used to identify the patterns of utilisation of remittances and the existing institutional framework that coordinates and/or hinders their use. This has enabled the author to pinpoint the existing bottlenecks and some areas of policy intervention to stimulate their productive use and increase capacity to accelerate economic growth. The relevance of these indications in light of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership’s co-development objectives is also presented.
Journal of North African Studies, 2006, Vol 11, Issue 1, p. 17-34