(Above: WFD CEO, Anthony Smith and Governor, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson meet President of House of Representatives, Mr El-Alami at EU Twinning launch)
The EU Twinning project launched in Rabat on 13 June is a historic partnership in which the Westminster Foundation for Democracy is delighted to be participating.
WFD and its French counterpart, the Ecole Nationale D’Administration, will coordinate the sharing of best practice over the next two years between the Assemblée Nationale, the House of Commons and the Moroccan House of Representatives in a constant process of mutual exchange and dialogue.
As Mr Rachid Talbi Alami, the President of the House of Representatives, said at Monday’s launch event: “Promotion of democracy, rule of law and freedom is the root… to progress.”
The project will also receive support from the German Bundestag, Belgian House of Representatives and the Greek Vouli.
The Assemble Nationale’s President, Claude Bartolone, addressing El-Alami, said the collaboration “showed your intention to build a vigorous democratic life”.
Mr El-Alami and the leadership of the Parliament in Rabat have worked tirelessly towards their vision of a distinctively Moroccan Parliament.
Citizens’ expectations are high following the constitutional reforms of 2011, which handed the Parliament significant new prerogatives – including the initiation of legislation and strengthened government accountability to the House of Representatives.
This is why Mr El-Alami spoke of the ideal of “legislative institutions that embody the will of the people” – a challenge faced by all parliaments and one which it is hoped the EU Twinning project will strive to help Morocco achieve.
(Above: WFD’s Regional Director for MENA and Asia, Dina Melhem, signs MOU with Speaker from Morocco’s House of Representatives, Mr. El-Alami in March 2016)
As Deputy Speaker Dr Rachadi explained at the launch event – which was attended by WFD’s Chief Executive, Anthony Smith – the two-year EU Twinning project will turn these principles into practice by pursuing activities in five key areas.
Quality legislative drafting and consultations; oversight of government and public policy evaluation; enhancing the participation of women in parliamentary work; parliamentary diplomacy; strengthened administration; and new information and communication technologies will all be developed by the project.
As Mr Bartolone put it: “There will be a lot of work to do and we are all delighted by the task. There is no feeling of strain when you are working with friends.” Indeed, the Morocco Parliament are widely viewed as excellent partners and the relationship of WFD’s office with its leadership is regarded as an example to others around the world.
Dr Rachadi said the EU Twinning project would benefit from the support provided by Westminster Foundation for Democracy in the coming period, after WFD signed a five-year partnership agreement with the Moroccan Parliament earlier this year.
“I’d like to thank Mrs Fatiha Ait Oulaid [WFD’s Country Representative in Morocco] as well as Mr Speaker [John Bercow] and his office for all their efforts in ensuring the success of this project,” he added.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, a WFD governor and representative of the House of Commons, delivered a message from Mr Bercow at the launch event.
“The most recent chapter in the relationship between our parliaments is perhaps the most encouraging in our long history,” Mr Bercow said in his message.
“In both our countries, and in countries around the world, we need to respond to the threats and the opportunities that new technologies, new public expectations, and new conflicts bring.
(Above: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson M.P. delivers speech on behalf of UK Speaker John Bercow)
“I am therefore delighted that the House of Commons, in support of our friends in the Assemblée Nationale of France, has been able to participate in this programme with the House of Representatives, and that we are able to share our experiences and learn from each other as we each work to represent our citizens, scrutinise our governments, and adopt responsible legislation.”
Sir Jeffrey said he wholeheartedly agreed with Mr Bercow’s sentiments, adding: “It’s clear from today’s launch that the strong relationship between the House of Commons and the Moroccan Parliament is only going to be deepened in the months and years ahead.”
The EU Twinning project’s methodologies underline this. The overall project approach is to institute a genuine partnership by making sure that implemented activities respond in a sustainable manner to the Moroccan Parliament’s needs.
This is not about the transposition of tools, techniques and methods, but instead about a consultative and participatory approach.
As Rupert Joy, EU Ambassador to Morocco, put it: “The experience of democracy in Europe is very diverse – each parliament has accumulated its own traditions. I hope the Moroccan Parliament can build on its first 50 years to build its own identity and to be inspired by the best practices of the EU.”