Spanish Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas has called for a “rapid ratification” of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement at the European Parliament.
Rabat – Planas met with Spanish MEPs and the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Fisheries Commissions Tuesday, November 13, in Strasburg.
The Spanish minister asked them to speed up the ratification of the agreement so that it can be approved in the first quarter of 2019 to allow Spanish fishermen to fish in the Moroccan waters, Spanish Europa Press reported.
Planas stressed the Spanish government’s interest in maintaining the agreement, especially for fishermen in Andalusia, Galicia, and the Canary Islands.
The minister told the press he received “positive responses” from the MEPs concerning the implementation of the agreement.
Planas affirmed that the legal services of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the EU are verifying the agreement.
“The Council of Ministers of the EU, in which the [European] governments are represented, is examining the agreement and then it will be sent to the EP for its opinion,” he added.
Planas indicated that “it would be a desirable objective” for the European Parliament to approve the agreement in February, so that fishermen can fish in Moroccan waters as soon as possible.
Before entering into effect, the fisheries agreement must pass through the Parliament and receive approval by all 28 EU member states.
The new EU-Morocco fisheries deal was finalized on July 24, in Rabat, with Moroccan officials.
The agreement offers 138 fishing licenses to European boats, half of which will be for Spain. The agreement maintains the same fishing opportunities as the previous protocol, according to Europa Press.
The EU agreed to pay €52 million for fishing privileges instead of the €80 million that Rabat requested. The amount is higher than the €42 million in the previous deal which expired on July 14.
Tracing products from Western Sahara
The EU Commission, represented by MEP Sabine Henzler, assured MEPs that the commission is currently discussing tracing products from Western Sahara with Morocco.
Henzler did not recognize Polisario’s role in the discussion over the fisheries agreement.
She said that the fact that the UN considers Polisario as the political representative of Sahrawis does not mean Polisario could be considered as a trade representative.
Liberal French MEP Patricia Lalonde stressed, in her draft report published on September 11, that the European Parliament should ensure a traceability mechanism to trace products from Western Sahara “so that Member States customs authorities have a clear indication of their origin.”
All MEPs agreed that traceability should be made before the Parliament will expectedly vote on the proposal in January 2019, according to pro-Polisario Western Sahara Resource Watch.