On 1 February 2024, Morocco handed over the Chairmanship of the Rabat Process to Portugal at a Senior Officials Meeting held in Rabat. Portugal will chair the migration dialogue for one year and prioritise specific areas of the Dialogue’s current action plan.
The Senior Officials Meeting brought together high-level representatives of the partner countries and organisations participating in the Rabat Process, a migration dialogue focusing on the migration routes linking Central, West and North Africa with Europe. The participants gathered in Rabat to take stock of the achievements made under the outgoing Moroccan Chairmanship and plan the actions of the incoming Portuguese Chairmanship. Morocco was the first country to assume the Chairmanship of the Rabat Process since the adoption of the Dialogue’s current multi-annual strategic framework for 2023-2027, the Cadiz Action Plan.
A comprehensive approach to migration governance
Fouad Kadmiri, Morocco’s Director of Consular and Social Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Resident Abroad, highlighted that "with the involvement of partner countries and organisations, Morocco succeeded in putting together a rich thematic programme in 2023, respecting the balance between all thematic areas of the Cadiz Action Plan." During the opening ceremony, the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as members of the Dialogue’s Steering Committee, and ICMPD, as Secretariat, also assessed past achievements and highlighted the importance of Dialogue in times of multiple crises.
Sedef Dearing, ICMPD’s Director of Migration Dialogues and Cooperation, emphasised that, "ICMPD, since its foundation 30 years ago, has been supporting various migration dialogues, fostering joint solutions to regional challenges. We will continue to work tirelessly in our capacity as a neutral Secretariat and listen and respond to partner countries to move the Dialogue forward.”
High-level attendance underlined the relevance of the Rabat Process
Morocco’s Minister for Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills, Dr. Younes Sekkouri, underlined at the handover ceremony that Morocco would “join efforts with Portugal to ensure that the identified thematic priorities will continue to be part of the discussions in the Rabat Process, particularly when it comes to circular migration", a topic addressed by a Special Event of the Rabat Process the day before.
Portugal’s Secretary of State for Equality and Migration, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Isabel Almeida Rodrigues, pledged to maintain the same level of commitment and ambition as their predecessors and stated, "Today, more than ever, regional dialogues like the Rabat Process are key players in shaping policies and actions taking into account the specificities and needs of the partner countries, thus allowing us to cope in a better way with migration management challenges."
The priorities of Portugal’s Chairmanship of the Rabat Process
Sonia Pereira, a member of the Board of Portugal’s Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA), presented the priorities and programme of the Portuguese Chairmanship of the Rabat Process in 2024/25. The key priorities, listed in order of importance, concern:
- Area 2: Regular migration and mobility
- Area 3: Protection and asylum
- Area 1: Development benefits of migration and addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement
These areas of the Cadiz Action Plan align closely with established priorities in Portuguese migration policy. During their Chairmanship, Portugal wishes to foster dialogue through a balanced and inclusive approach, taking into account the interests of partner countries.