The European Union executive has welcomed King Mohammed VI's reform vows as ‘a clear commitment to democracy’ and said it would support such ‘far-reaching reforms’.

‘We welcome the King of Morocco's announcement of the main elements of the new Constitution that will be submitted to referendum on 1 July 2011,’ said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele in a joint statement.

‘It is a significant step and signals a clear commitment to democracy and respect for human rights.'

The 47-year-old monarch, who took over the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty in 1999, holds virtually all power in the Muslim north African country.

He is also its top religious authority.

Under his proposal of a new draft constitution, he would remain head of state and the military and appoint ambassadors and diplomats, while retaining the right to name top officials of unspecified ‘strategic’ administrations.

The prime minister, to be called the president of the government, would have the power to dissolve parliament, hitherto the monarch's prerogative.

Mohammed VI also pledged an independent judiciary.

The EU statement said the proposed constitution touched on key elements of reform and modernisation, such as the separation of powers, the strengthening of the government's role, the independence of the judiciary, regionalisation and equality of rights between men and women.

‘Once fully implemented, it would be a major step forward in the process of reforms already initiated by Morocco,’ Ms Ashton and Mr Fuele said.

‘The European Union is ready to support Morocco's efforts to implement such far-reaching reforms.’