MEP slams Commission's handling of Morocco deal
14.04.2011 / 05:19 CET
Carl Haglund says Commission's handling lacked transparency.
A leading MEP has criticised the European Commission's management of the controversial fisheries deal between the European Union and Morocco.
The European Parliament is to vote on the recent Commission decision to extend ‘a fish for finance' deal with Morocco by one year. The original agreement, which was reached in 2007, has long been the target of campaigners and lawyers who say that it tramples on the rights of people living in the disputed Western Sahara territory. It has also come under attack from some MEPs for bolstering the “illegal” occupation of Western Sahara.
Lack of transparency
Carl Haglund, a Finnish Liberal MEP and a vice-chair of the Parliament's fisheries committee, who is drafting the Parliament's report on the deal, has now hit out at the procedural aspects. “The Commission has handled this extremely badly,” he said: it was slow and the process was lacking in transparency.
According to Haglund, the Commission has still not submitted the necessary referral to Parliament, and a key report analysing the current agreement is available only in French, and has not been made public.
This was “one of the worst examples” of its kind since the Lisbon treaty came into force, Haglund said. The new treaty empowers the Parliament to block international agreements. But the delays in transmitting documents mean that the Parliament's fisheries committee is unlikely to vote on the extension until late May, with a Parliamentary vote in June or July – four or five months into the life of the one-year extension.
Haglund said that he had “not made up his mind” about the merits of the fisheries agreement itself. His report would, he said, assess the use of EU taxpayers' money, how the deal had benefited EU fishing crews, the people of Morocco and the disputed Western Sahara territory, as well as the impact on fish stocks. But he noted that “a vast majority of fish stocks in this region are overfished or close to the limit of overfishing”.
A Commission spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of Haglund's critique, but said: “It is the Parliament's full right and duty to signal to the Commission and to the member states what it wants to happen to this protocol