MEMBERS of the European Parliament voting in Strasbourg yesterday have voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat compromise insisting that the new fishing agreement between Morocco and the EU is implemented fully in line with international law in order that it safeguards the rights of the people of the Western Sahara.
Commenting on the vote, Elspeth Attwooll MEP, Lib Dem Fisheries Spokesperson, said:
"The European Commission has signed up to this agreement with Morocco without giving full consideration to its potentially negative impact upon the people of Western Sahara. Today's vote demonstrates, however, that many of us in the European Parliament believe that it is intimately related to the ongoing sovereignty dispute.
"I have worked hard to come up with a compromise to which a majority of MEPs have been able to sign up. The final decision will be taken by fisheries ministers in the coming weeks. I urge them to take heed of the view expressed by the European Parliament and I urge the Commission to take heed when monitoring the implementation of the agreement."
The agreement is the most valuable of all the EU's fisheries agreements with external countries. It is worth 36 million Euros per year and is seen by the European Commission and EU Member States as a crucial pillar of EU-Morocco diplomatic relations.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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