EU-Morocco:EP approves to agriculture and fisheries deal (2)

16 February, 17:26

(ANSAmed) - STRASBURG, FEBRUARY 16 - The European Parliament has approved (with 369 against 225 votes and 31 abstentions) the agreement on agriculture and fisheries with Morocco. French rapporteur Jose' Bove' wanted the deal to be rejected because it harms European farmers in his view. The votes were divided between countries rather than political parties, with Spain and Portugal leading the Mediterranean countries that oppose the agreement. The agreement that was approved liberalises part of the trade in farm produce and seafood. But the EP has also adopted a resolution that expresses a series of concerns over the possibility of fraud. The general goal of the agreement is to increase trade between the EU and Morocco and to support the democratic transition that started after the Arab Spring. Most Euro-MPs think that the deal should help solve the country's social, economic and security problems. Still, a substantial minority voted against the document, including French rapporteur of the text José Bové (Greens), who has withdrawn his name from the document because its ''negative effects on small European farmers, the unsafe work and environmental conditions in Morocco and the inclusion of the Western Sahara in the deal, violating international law." The commercial deal is a step towards a free-trade agreement, raising the traded quotas for several products that can be imported paying low or zero customs duties.

In fact 55% of customs duties on Moroccan farm produce and seafood will be removed (from the current 33%) and 70% of duties on EU farm produce and seafood will be removed in 10 years (from the current 1%). Looking at measures to protect European producers, several products will not be liberalised including tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, garlic, clementines and strawberries. Moreover, trade quotas are maintained that take European seasonal production into account, avoiding distortion of the European market. Morocco must respect European health standards for its exports. The vote for the agreement follows a resolution that was passed with 398 against 175 votes and 50 abstentions, in which the Euro-MPs ask the European Commission to "closely monitor that the quotas are respected and to step up border inspections to avoid fraud and violations of import prices." The resolution also asks to assess the deal's impact on European farmers. (ANSAmed).

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