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Morocco-EU Fishing Deal Sparks Spanish Concerns

Carmen Crespo, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development in the Government of Andalusia, on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) to hold bilateral meetings with Morocco, if only only in an informal setting, in order to reach a solution as soon as possible for the renewal of the protocol relating to the fisheries agreement.

The European Commission is waiting to hear the verdict on appeal from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), before the opening of negotiations with the kingdom on the protocol, which expired on July 17. At first instance, the court invalidated, on September 29, 20221, all the agreements concluded with Morocco and integrating Western Sahara.

This situation is particularly detrimental to fishermen in the Andalusia region, many of whom carry out their activities in Moroccan territorial waters. In the plenary session of Parliament, C. Crespo warned the central executive that the aid allocated to the sector pending the renewal of the protocol should be adapted to the particular situation of Andalusian professionals, who are the most concerned. According to the minister from the People’s Party (PP), the regional government “has tripled the aid”, which has gone “from 22.3 to 76.5 million euros, for 163 requests for temporary aid to 3,345”. “We are doing everything in our power and we will continue to do so and demand from Brussels and Madrid what is right for our fishermen,” she said. For his part, Rocío Arrabal, deputy of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) called for “extraordinary” aid for the sector, while accusing the department of falling “late” and “doing nothing” since July 17.

Five days before the expiration of the fishing protocol between Morocco and the European Union, Nasser Bourita, head of Moroccan diplomacy, has already laid down the kingdom’s conditions for a possible renewal, arguing that the country was not in a partnership approach of “natural resources against financial support”. He thus recalled that Rabat “wants partnerships with clearer added value”, in harmony with “the vision of Morocco and its interaction with its partners, whether bilateral, regional or multilateral”. More prosaically, Morocco “wants more advanced partnerships, where the Moroccan added value is stronger, rather than “come fishing, give money and go”” noted the Moroccan official.

This article is originally published on perspectivesmed.com

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