Budget rapporteur calls for rejection of fish pact
The rapporteur of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee recommends Parliament to reject the one-year extension of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement. “Tax payers’ money needs to be spent wisely and legally”, he said.
In the budget committee's 11 October hearing, French MEP François Alfonsi, the committee's rapporteur on the EU-Morocco fish agreement, advised Parliament to dismiss the one-year extension of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement.
According to the rapporteur, the one single agreement with Morocco eats away a sizeable percentage of the entire budget that the EU has set aside for these types of bilateral fisheries agreements. “25% of the fisheries budget line is spent on this agreement – that is a lot”, Alfonsi remarked.
The budget committee is assigned to evaluate the economic impact of the agreement, i.e. how tax payers’ money is being used. “Generally very disappointing”, is the general conclusion of the independent evaluation report issued by a consultancy firm at the request of the European Commission. That report qualifies the fisheries agreement with Morocco as placing the heaviest relative burden on EU tax payers of all EU agreements and the least cost-effective of all ongoing bilateral agreements.
Carl Haglund, rapporteur for the Fisheries Agreement and also member of the budget committee, added that “this deal does not benefit EU tax payers. Perhaps some Spanish fishermen, but not EU tax payers.”
The recommendation of budget’s rapporteur is in line with the observations of the rapporteurs of Parliament's development and fisheries committee. But the opposition to their conclusions is also remarkably similar in all three committees: mainly Spanish and French socialists and Christian-democrats accuse the rapporteurs of professing a political opinion on Western Sahara.
“The budget is a political issue if you look at the underpinning principles”, budget rapporteur Alfonsi argued. “Principles such as legal terms and sustainable development need to be met with the expenditure approved by this committee. And this agreement presents a double problem: it is not regular in legal terms, nor is it in line with the sustainable objectives that Parliament upholds”.
“Tax payers’ money needs to be spent wisely and legally”, he concluded.
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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