European Commission - Press release
EU-Morocco: Agricultural agreement sign of credibility
Strasbourg, 17 February 2012 - The European Commission welcomes the positive vote of the European Parliament on the Agricultural agreement with Morocco. Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloș, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice President Catherine Ashton expressed their satisfaction with the approval of this Agreement during the plenary session in Strasbourg on Thursday.
"As I said in the Plenary debate, this is an important agreement, not only in economic terms, but also in political terms. It is a balanced agreement which opens new opportunities for our producers in Europe. It paves the way for a real reinforcement of our relations with Morocco, including with the opening of negotiations for a future bilateral agreement of geographical indications which we are now ready to discuss," commissioner Cioloș stated.
"This agreement is particularly important in the context of the changes in our Southern Neighbourhood since it will support increased trade and create job opportunities," Commissioner Füle said after the MEPs approved the EU-Morocco Agreement on the liberalization of trade in agricultural products, fish and fishery products during the plenary session in Strasbourg by 369 votes.
"The approved agreement is fully in line with our new approach and sends a strong message to Morocco and to other Southern Neighbours about our determination to advance our relationship in a practical way that will have a strong positive impact on citizens both in Morocco and the EU," Commissioner Füle said recalling that the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is based on supporting reforms in the partner countries according to the principle ´more for more´.
"Today's vote also boosts the credibility of our efforts to establish a close partnership with our neighbours, including in particular the principles of mutual accountability and 'more for more'," Mr Füle said. In his closing statement after yesterday's plenary debate, Commissioner Füle appreciated the close and positive cooperation with the MEPs on this issue and recalled that last December the EP supported the new approach to ENP, especially the vision of the gradual economic integration of the neighbours in the EU´s internal market. "The agreement with Morocco is a building block of this exercise and its adoption will send a very positive and encouraging signal to all our ENP partners in the East and South," he stated and stressed that the Commission intends to deliver on the commitments it has taken towards the EP in addressing the concerns raised in the resolution adopted today.
Catherine Ashton on her part said after the vote: "I welcome this vote and would like to congratulate the Parliament on the thorough debate it has conducted on this issue. Today the EU has demonstrated that it is ready to deepen its relationship with Morocco in tangible and practical ways. This Agreement will be good for trade and good for jobs. It will benefit the citizens of both the European Union and Morocco. The vote also sends a strong message to our partners in the Southern Neighbourhood that we are serious in our promises to respond to their reform efforts. I trust that this is only the beginning of a new phase in EU-Moroccan relations".
Commissioner Füle discussed the Agricultural agreement with Moroccan partners during his recent visit to Rabat (on 19th January) where he also encouraged the new government in its reform efforts. Morocco is an important partner for the EU. Advanced Status for Morocco was concluded in 2008 and the entry into force of the Agricultural agreement will give substance to this Advanced Status. It will create investment opportunities for EU companies and help to provide jobs in Morocco, therefore reducing the temptation to find better living opportunities abroad. In the light of current events in the Southern Mediterranean, the European Commission finds it important that the Agreement with Morocco on the further liberalisation of agricultural, processed agricultural and fishery products enters into force as soon as possible.
Peter Stano (+32 2 295 74 84)
Roger Waite (+32 2 296 14 04)