Fears Raised Over Morocco Trade Agreement

26 January 2012

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today expressed his concern over the vote by the European Parliament's International Trade Committee which recommended that the European Parliament gives its consent to the inclusion of a new protocol on agriculture and fisheries in the EU-Morocco trade agreement.

Alyn's concern stems from the inclusion of Western Sahara in the agreement - in conflict with international law - as well as the potential impact on small producers. Western Sahara has been occupied by Moroccan troops since 1979, despite the fact that 81 states recognise the Western Saharan resistance forces as the legitimate government, and the Moroccan government has been accused of systematic abuse of human rights, such as the "disappearance" of political activists, torture, and violence against peaceful demonstrators.

The European Parliament's Agriculture Committee (of which Alyn is a member) also voted on an opinion report in December, and recommended that the Parliament should withhold its consent.

The report is now set to be voted on by the whole Parliament at the February plenary session in Strasbourg. Parliament's consent is required for the trade deal to be agreed.

Alyn said:

"The EU has not only repeatedly and consistently ignored the plight of the people of Western Sahara but has, on occasion, actively colluded with the plunder of their resources.

"We in Europe should be far more aggressive in pushing our production methods and our values in global and bilateral trade talks. While I am philosophically in favour of free trade, I am not convinced that it will solve all of the world's problems; it must be accompanied by strong support for social, environmental and human rights as well as economic development.

"The European Parliament must not accept an agreement that fails to recognise the rights of the people of Western Sahara, including the right to self-determination. The resident Saharawi people should once again be able to benefit from their natural and most important sources of income."