Major Concern Over EU-Morocco Trade Agreement

16 February 2012

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) expressed major concern following a Parliament vote on the EU-Morocco trade agreement, which is questionable under international law due to the use of Western Saharan waters, and fails to protect the livelihoods of local producers.

The European Parliament today voted to give its consent to the inclusion of a new protocol on agriculture and fisheries in the EU-Morocco trade agreement. The agreement has allowed EU registered boats to continue fishing in Western Saharan waters, even though this territory has been under illegal occupation since the 1970s.

Legal advice from the UN has suggested that Morocco had no right to sell access to Western Saharan waters without consulting the local population, or proving that such activity would be of benefit to local people.

Alyn said:

"The people of Western Sahara are in the EU's backyard yet repeatedly the EU has not only ignored their plight but actively colluded with the plunder of their seas and other resources.

"The European Parliament voted today over a new agreement for further liberalisation of agricultural products from Morocco. The consequence could be a massive support to unethical and controversial industry in the territory.

"By failing to exclude Western Sahara from the agreement, the EU is adding to the difficulties preventing a peaceful resolution of this conflict. It is politically irresponsible in terms of the signal it sends to the international community.

"I am disappointed that a majority in the EP was deaf to concerns raised about this agreement. However, the debates in the parliament, and the strong criticism of this agreement, have meant that the EU's trade policy and the problems of its approach are at least finally being subjected to more intense scrutiny."