EU-Morocco agri-deal to enter into force in October
Due to Morocco’s tardiness in ratifying the EU-Morocco agricultural agreement, the accord is now expected to enter into force early October. Not coincidentally coinciding with the start of Morocco’s export-season to the EU.
Just two weeks ago, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, announced that the agreement was expected to enter into force on 1 July 2012; a time when Moroccan produce is largely absent on the EU market.
But the Moroccan Parliament only started its ratification procedure of the pact late last week. The Parliament is supposed to ratify the agreement before 30 June, at the latest. Morocco has now struck a deal with the EU that upon ratification, three months ought to pass before the agreement can enter into force.
As a result, the reciprocal liberalisation of agricultural and fisheries products covered by the agreement will commence at the exact same time as Morocco's export season to the Union.
The agricultural agreement allows for an increased amount of Moroccan fruits and vegetables to enter the EU market. Because of the vague territorial scope of the deal, leaving it to Morocco to define its own jurisdiction, produce from occupied Western Sahara will end up in EU supermarkets stamped as from Morocco.
As a consequence of Morocco's belated ratification, the entry-into-force will now also correspond to the takeoff of the southern European producers' export season for certain fruits and vegetables. The EU-Morocco agreement grants Morocco higher quotas for a number of products which are considered sensitive to the Union, such as tomatoes. Tomatoes from Morocco and occupied Western Sahara will be put in direct competition with tomatoes from Canary Islands, Murcia and other southern regions - much to the lament of the EU's own farmers.
The EU-Morocco agricultural agreement was ratified by the European Parliament on 16 February 2012, despite the EP's rapporteur's recommendation to turn the deal down for a number of reasons, including the legal concerns for implicitly including Western Sahara.
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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