A new audit has found that budget support allocated to Morocco by the EU has had limited results in terms of providing added value and supporting reform.
Between 2014 and 2018 the EU – which is Morocco’s largest single donor of development aid – released €206m in budget support funding to Morocco, with an additional €562m in contracts. The EU’s budget support instrument is responsible for up to 75% of the bloc’s total funding disbursements in Morocco; and is geared towards promoting progressive reform and implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The European Court of Auditors examined management of EU budget support by the European Commission for the period spanning 2014 to 2018, aiming particularly to assess whether the primary objectives of the funding had been met in the health, justice, private sector development and social protection sectors.
In implementing budget support measures in Morocco, the Commission identified three key sectors in need of priority assistance: the rule of law, social services and sustainable growth measures. However, the Auditors found, the Commission then divided its three primary priority sectors into a further 13 ‘sub-sectors’; several of which could feasibly considered to be standalone sectors in themselves. By taking such a broad approach in defining areas eligible for funding, the Commission risked reducing the impact of any targeted support; meanwhile, funding allocation decisions were not wholly transparent and the Commission’s co-ordination of its donors was characterised as ‘uneven’.
The audit noted that fewer than half of the targets set by programmes chosen for EU budget support funding had been met by the end of 2018; and that several of these targets were either insufficiently ambitious to institute any meaningful reforms. Some programmes had received payment irrespective of failure to achieve their stated targets: the auditors highlighted a lack of thorough measures on the part of the Commission to assess results.
Hannu Takkula, the Member of the Court of Auditors responsible for the report, said: “EU budget support for Morocco did not provide sufficient support for the country’s reforms and progress on key challenges was limited. To maximise the impact of EU funding, the Commission should focus support on fewer sectors and strengthen the political and policy dialogue with Morocco.”