Morocco has cause to celebrate the signing in Strasbourg on Thursday of the controversial fishing and farming accord with the European Union. The issue has been divisive, with strong opposition from European farmers as well as some environmental groups. Critics say it will hurt small family farms in France, Spain and Morocco and swing the economic advantages towards the large European food conglomerates
|the European Parliament will revisit the vetoed fishing agreement|
The European Parliament approved the new fishing and farming accord with Morocco by 369 to 225 votes. It is intended that the new agreement will reduce customs costs and boost trade across the Mediterranean.
Supporters of the accord maintain that it will allow European access to a key market and show European support for Morocco as it undertakes democratic reforms prompted by the Arab Spring uprisings.
The win for Morocco comes in the wake of their embarrassing defeat on the proposed extension of the European Union-Morocco “agreement on fishing”. The resolution to scrap the EU-Morocco fisheries deal was approved on the 14th December, 2011 with 326 votes for, 296 votes against and 58 abstentions.
|The fishing fleet in Agadir|
However, despite last year's setback, two days ago all the countries of the European Union formally approved to authorize the Commissioner for Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, to resume contacts with Morocco and to sign a new fishing agreement, to replace that vetoed by the European Parliament last year after sustained social media pressure from supporters of the Algerian backed Polisario rebels.
The decision of the 27 member states does not expressly mention the Sahara or Polisario, references to which the governments of Spain and France opposed. The parliament's approval is now needed for it to be valid.
According to European sources consulted by Europa Press Agency, the measure provides a "geographical description" of the regions covered by the agreement.and that should benefit from the advantages it offers. Specifically, the text mentions 'south 27° 40'N' The Polisario have been attempting to claim that Morocco is exploiting its resources and claims to be excluded from any agreement with Morocco.
On this occasion, Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom and the Netherlands voted against the document because they argued that there is no express reference to the Sahara region. In light on the online activism by Polisario supporters, it is a timely reminder for Morocco that the inability of the Moroccan representatives to understand the importance and impacts of blogs, online activism, and “the internet diplomacy” can have very negative consequences.