Working Paper

Between Courting and Controlling: The Moroccan State and 'Its' Emigrants

Published 1 January 2007 / By Hein de Haas

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The Moroccan state has long attempted to maintain tight control on "its" subjects living in Europe . Since the 1960s, the state has actively discouraged migrants' social and political integration because this was seen as endangering the flow of remittances and creating political opposition from outside. However, the failure of these remote control policies and an ominous stagnation in remittances prompted the state to change course over the 1990s. On the surface, repression has given way to the active courting of the rapidly expanding Diaspora. Along with policies to facilitate holiday returns, remittances and to co-opt former exiles, the state adopted a positive attitude towards migrants' dual citizenship and integration. Despite the apparent success of these policies, the recent spectacular increases in remittances and holiday visits could only be achieved because of continuing emigration and because these targeted policies were an integral part of a more general process of political reform and liberalisation. Reform has only been partial and the state has not given up a number of instruments to control and foster links with 'its' emigrants. While the state tries to strike a delicate balance between courting and controlling the expanding Moroccan Diaspora, some European politicians see these policies as running counter to integration policies. This can result in conflicting sovereignty claims made by Moroccan and European states.


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