King Juan Carlos of Spain
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of Spaniards crossing into Morocco for jobs, immigrations experts have claimed.
It marks a change from the decades-long trend of Moroccans
migrating to Spain in search of better lives.
Numbers are difficult to assess because many Spaniards arrive as tourists and return to their homeland every three months to collect their unemployment benefits, ensuring they do not overstay their visas.
Official figures show that 2660 Spaniards were registered for social security in Morocco in 2012, slightly up from 2507 in 2011, but the numbers actually living and working in the country are believed to be far higher.
At a macroeconomic level, Morocco\'s key trading partners are Spain and France, the former colonial power that divided and ruled the country as a protectorate.
On Monday, Spain\'s King Juan Carlos will begin a three-day state visit to Morocco.
His trip reflects the close diplomatic ties between Madrid and Rabat that have steadily improved in the more than five decades since the North African country achieved independence.
But Morocco has economic woes of its own.
Despite a growth rate in recent years of between 2.5 and five percent, which is closely linked to annual agricultural output, youth unemployment stands at more than 20 percent.
This has not deterred the Spanish hopefuls.
Social workers say that some Spaniards work in call centres for wages between €400 to €500 per month, while many are employed in small businesses, especially in the construction sector — one of those most affected by the economic crisis in Spain.
\"Many work informally and regularly travel to Spain to receive unemployment benefits and to avoid being illegal\" in Morocco, where the law restricts a tourist\'s stay to three months, says a young Spanish intern with a local NGO.
The Moroccan interior ministry, in an attempt to keep a tighter rein on the process, has urged Spanish newcomers to comply with all the required formalities.