ISSN 2330-717X

Moroccan-EU Agriculture Agreement: Solid Basis For A Full Partnership – OpEd


By a large majority, the European Parliament adopted, on Wednesday in Strasbourg the agriculture agreement between Morocco and the European Union dealing a new blow to the Algeria-backed Polisario Front’s attempt to block the deal.

The agreement, adopted by 444 votes in favor, gives a new impetus to relations between Morocco and the EU. It follows recent positive developments that have enabled both sides to strengthen the legal certainty of their trade agreements and consolidate their multifaceted strategic partnership.

This agreement aims to extend trade preferences to agriculture and fishery products from the southern provinces of the Kingdom..

It is worth noting that Rabat suspended ties with Brussels early 2016 after the General Court of the EU annulled on December 2015 the deal on the grounds that it illegally applied to the disputed Western Sahara.

The fisheries agreement allowing 126 EU fishing vessels from 11 EU countries to fish in the Atlantic fishing ground in Morocco expired July 14. 

Around 70 European fishing boats which were still on Moroccan coasts were given an ultimatum to leave the country following the expiry of the deal.

Last week, a group of Sahrawis addressed the European Union urging the European organization to adopt the agreements outlining the positive economic impact it will directly have on the inhabitants of the southern provinces in Morocco.  

In a petition, the group of Sahrawis wrote: “Since our country completed its territorial integrity by recovering its southern provinces, it has made significant efforts towards their sustainable development. Noticeable progress made in our southern provinces as the result of our country’s efforts to make development, both at large and in our regions, our top priority.”The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement stating that the adoption by an overwhelming majority of the Moroccan-EU Agriculture Agreement confirms that “any agreement covering the Moroccan Sahara can only be negotiated and signed by the Kingdom in the exercise of its full sovereignty over this part of its territory”, says the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The ministry, which commends the adoption by the European Parliament, in plenary session in Strasbourg, of the Exchange of Letters on the Agriculture Agreement concluded between the Kingdom of Morocco and the EU, points out in a statement that this agreement explicitly emphasizes that agriculture and fisheries products from the southern provinces of the Kingdom benefit from the same tariff preferences as those covered by the Association Agreement.

This vote, by an overwhelming majority, is the culmination of a long process of technical negotiations, political consultations and legal validations between Morocco and the EU, the ministry notes, adding that throughout this process Morocco has been driven by a triple logic, namely the non-negotiable defense of its territorial integrity and the fundamentals of its position towards the Moroccan Sahara, the preservation of its economic interests in an important sector with a privileged trading partner and a genuine commitment to a multidimensional and deep partnership with the EU.

Morocco, the ministry stresses, wishes to express its appreciation for the action of all European institutions and EU member States, as well as their continued commitment in a spirit of responsibility, to confront the manoeuvres and attacks carried out by Algeria and the polisario to torpedo this long-standing partnership.

The Kingdom considers that the adoption of this Agreement constitutes a solid basis for a full and complete relaunch of its partnership with the EU, in order to jointly address the challenges facing the region and seize its opportunities, in a spirit of clarity, responsibility and ambition, the statement concludes.

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Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political observer and consultant, who follows events in his country and across North Africa. He is a member of Washington Press Club.

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