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Under the Radar: Increasing Migration and the Future of Europe

Mohammed Soliman | Country Analyst

Over the past month, groundTruth Global has been monitoring an increasing trend of migration through the Moroccan coastal areas of Tarfaya and Boujdour and Western Sahara’s Dakhla and the northern cities to Spain and the wider European Union. Along with Moroccans, the majority of migrants come from sub-Saharan Africa to evade economic scarcity and flee civil and sectarian wars.

The unstable security situation in Libya is forcing migrants to look for a safer route to Europe, and Morocco is emerging as a stable alternative. Over the past year, the country has witnessed a hike in migration due to its proximity to Spain (15 kilometers at the narrowest point of the Gibraltar Strait). Additionally, instead of crossing the Strait, some migrants are attempting to enter the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, located on Morocco’s northern coast, to gain entry into the EU.

Political changes within the EU are also playing a role in boosting Morocco’s migration routes. The newly formed far-right coalition government in Italy, led by Giuseppe Conte, takes a strong stand against migration. The government requested that European NGO-run rescue ships not rescue migrants found at sea to place increased pressure on traffickers. Meanwhile, Spain just witnessed the ousting of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who pursued a tough policy on immigration. Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Socialist Workers' Party, is now forming a government with softer immigration policies to shape a more welcoming Spain.

The trend of increased migration into Europe should be viewed as an opportunity. Europe is experiencing low birthrates and higher life expectancy, while post-WWII baby-boomers are retiring. The current working age population will soon be tasked with higher economic responsibilities, and they can benefit from the influx of migrants arriving from Morocco. groundTruth Global is collecting data on migration in the Mediterranean Sea to help us understand demographic shifts in Europe. In doing so, groundTruth can help businesses and government agencies adapt to these changes to understand the economic contributions that migrants can make to the European economy.