In 2018, passage from North Africa to the Spanish mainland has become the main irregular migration route to Europe. At the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco are separated by only 14 kilometres of water. With its exclaves Ceuta and Melilla, Spain also has territory on the African continent. This makes Spain a key player when it comes to European solutions in the sphere of migration .
During their meetings in Madrid on 25 and 26 November 2018, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell agreed to more closely coordinate their foreign and European policy. Foreign Minister Maas commented: “We need Spain and its pro European government so as to strengthen the European Union for the future.” The dialogue on migration is one of the formats through which Germany is deepening its cooperation with Spain. Together, the two countries are now looking for solutions regarding immigration into the EU. Both Germany and Spain support the Global Compact for Migration. .
Cooperation with countries of origin and transit
Spain has been closely cooperating with Morocco, as well as other countries of origin and transit in West and North Africa, for many years. At their meeting, the German and Spanish sides agreed to further deepen bilateral coordination, also concerning their efforts in these countries. Both are already campaigning for a swift and substantial increase in the support that Morocco receives from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). The aim is to fight the causes of irregular migration and create prospects for young people in Morocco.
More common approaches through migration dialogues
The dialogue with Spain was held on 3 December in Madrid. The German delegation was led by the Deputy Commissioner for Refugees and Migration at the Federal Foreign Office, Ambassador Thomas Ossowski. Various ministries and government authorities on both sides participated in the meeting. The discussions showed that there is consensus on most issues related to refugees and migration, e.g. the role of Frontex and the need to rapidly integrate refugees. The Federal Foreign Office conducts migration dialogues with various partner countries – as well as Italy, Egypt and Greece – with a view to finding common approaches and promoting mutual understanding.