“The country that benefits most of the agreement is Spain. None of the Spanish parliamentarians that support a renegotiation of the fisheries agreement wanted to speak with me”, stated the radio journalist in a news programme on 28 December 2010 (in Swedish).
The radio reportage treated the controversial aspects of the EU fisheries agreement offshore occupied Western Sahara. The EU is currently paying Morocco millions of euros to fish in occupied Western Sahara in violation of international law.
Spanish Member of European Parliament, Raul Romeva, who has battled the agreement for several years, said that the parliamentarians supporting the fisheries in Western Sahara use mainly 2 arguments. Firstly, they see such trade agreements as unrelated to any human rights concerns. Secondly, they insist that the damaged European fisheries industry need such agreements.
Also other parliamentarians from the Greens were interviewed in the reportage, apart from Romeva.
Swedish Green MEP Isabella Lövin said that the feeling towards the agreement in the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee has changed after the Parliament’s Legal Services assessed the agreement last year.
“The Legal Services said that either the agreement must be suspended, or that the waters of Western Sahara be excluded from the agreement. This led to a big opposition towards the agreement. I was actually surprised with the extent”, said Lövin.
“Regrettably, there is a sort of culture, a gentlemen's agreement, in the Council of Ministers, whereby governments who are not directly benefiting from a decision keep quiet. Sweden did the right thing in this case, taking the right stance. We hope there will be an increased political pressure in other countries too, questioning this agreement", stated Lövin.
Also Vincent Chapeau, expert in international law at Université Libre in Brussels, was quoted in the radio programme.
“The fisheries agreement offshore Western Sahara both contributes to legitimise and maintain the occupation of Western Sahara. The waters offshore Western Sahara must be excluded if it is to be in line with international law”, stated Chapeau.
“The citizens of Europe would not be happy if they knew that the EU pays millions of Euros annually to Morocco so that Spanish boats can fish offshore the coast of Western Sahara, in violation of international law”, stated Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, French MEP.
The current fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, was praised for taking the affair seriously.
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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