Two EU Parliament committees reject EU-Morocco Fish Pact

Today, the European Parliament's Development and Budget Committee both adopted an opinion calling on Parliament to reject the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement.
Published: 07.11 - 2011 18:48Printer version    
The Budget Committee deplored the heavy financial yoke of this particular agreement, consuming no less than 25% of the Union's budget line for fisheries. Of all the EU's ongoing bilateral agreements, the accord with Morocco is the least cost-efficient, placing the heaviest relative burden on EU tax payers.

A majority of the budget committee this afternoon agreed to rapporteur François Alfonsi's conclusion:

"The Committee on Budgets calls on the Committee of Fisheries, as the committee responsible, to request that Parliament reject the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the fisheries partnership agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco, and expresses its wish that the forthcoming protocol be drafted to include stronger environmental and economic provisions more beneficial to development of all the local populations involved".

Just an hour later, an overwhelming majority of the Development Committee came to the same conclusion. Relying on the European Commission’s external evaluation of the contentious agreement, rapporteur Isabella Lövin reported that the agreement did not have any substantial positive impact on the viability of the fisheries sector from a development perspective. Only 15% of the funds available for sectoral support had been used by Morocco. In addition, EU fishing had only generated 0,04% of jobs in Morocco's fishing sector.

The Development Committee's opinion also laments that the FPA fails entirely at addressing whether the agreement has been concluded in accordance of the wishes of the people of Western Sahara.

Amendments by French MEP Maurice Ponga, Belgian MEP Louis Michel and the Spanish socialists on the committee, seeking Parliament to consent to the EU-Morocco fish deal, were rejected.

“We expect Parliament to follow the recommendations from these committees. We don’t see one single argument why the unethical fisheries should go on. EU institutions have themselves declared it to be ecologically damaging and in violation of international law. Adding that the European Commission's independent evaluation documents that the fish pact with Morocco also constitutes a significant waste of EU tax payers' money, it should be evident that the EU should spend its money elsewhere”, stated Sara Eyckmans, coordinator of the international organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch.

Former legal counsel of the UN, Hans Corell, has stated that the EU fisheries in Western Sahara are in violation of international law. He has often expressed his astonishment on the European Commission's misuse of the report he wrote for the Security Council in 2002 on natural resource exploitation in the Saharawi territory.

In October 2011, the former UN Special Representative to Western Sahara, regretted the EU’s continued fisheries offshore the occupied territory.


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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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