“After the signing of the agreement, there is still a long way to go, especially the battle that will take place at the European Parliament,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita said Friday, September 7, in a statement published by state-owned news agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
Bourita spoke at a meeting on the “Morocco-EU negotiations on the fisheries agreement” at the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Borders, National Defense, and Occupied Zones at the House of Councillors in Parliament.
Before entering into effect, the fisheries agreement must pass through the European Parliament and receive approval by all 28 EU member states.
“The battle requires support from the various actors, parliamentarians and supporters, in order to consolidate the achievements made by Morocco in this matter,” Bourita added.
The Moroccan foreign minister stated that Morocco had set “red lines” in its negotiations over the renewal of the fisheries agreement. They included “the kingdom’s national sovereignty, bringing the agreement in line with the national fisheries strategy, and the need to consider sustainability of resources and their control.”
The agreement, which allows European fishing boats to operate in Moroccan waters for compensation, excluded the Mediterranean Sea in order to preserve Morocco’s fishery resources.
Bourita also stressed “the strict delimitation of the geographical area covered by the agreement.”
Article 1 of the fisheries agreement stipulates that “the fishing area extends from parallel 35 to parallel 22, meaning from Cape Spartel in northern Morocco to Cap Blanc in the south.”
The minister also emphasized the strong involvement of the population’s representatives in the Morocco-EU partnership.
Morocco’s concerned regional councils, including those of the southern provinces, approved minutes in which they supported the negotiation process in accordance with the red lines Morocco had set, Bourita added.
On September, 2, a delegation from the European Parliament arrived in Morocco to evaluate “the benefits of the fisheries agreements” to the local population in Western Sahara. The delegation, which included deputies from the Committee on International Trade (INTA), met representatives of public authorities and NGOs during their stay in Dakhla and Laayoune in the southern provinces.
The chairman of the Moroccan-European Union Joint Parliamentary Committee, Abderrahim Atmoun, welcomed the visit. He also expressed hopes that “the next stage of voting on the two agreements, agricultural and fisheries, will tend to maintain the strong ties binding the two parties extending to all other areas of cooperation, including the political, technical and cultural cooperation as well as security.”