Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-10-28-Speech-4-138"

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"Mr President, since 1992 the European Union has had fisheries agreements with Morocco, and the one which is currently in force expires at the end of November as we all know. By means of this agreement, around 500 boats from the European Union, of which 50 are Portuguese, have access to Moroccan waters in return for an annual payment of around EUR 125 million. And finally, it is important therefore, that the Council and the Commission perform their work and inform Parliament about it. It is long overdue and I think that the Commission, the Council and the Member States can be blamed for this delay especially by those governments that were most involved in this matter. As the saying goes, “better late than never”. The speed at which we negotiate is becoming a prime factor given the uncertainty and anguish that the lack of a decision is causing fishermen and their families even now. Socio-economic measures must therefore be provided for compensation both for fishermen and for the processing industry if there is a halt in activity as a result of a possible delay in the negotiations. Given what happened in 1994, I have no doubt that we are faced with huge problems. Morocco feels that its fisheries resources are extremely valuable and also that they are permanently under siege by the large international fishing powers such as Japan, South Korea or Russia, who want to fish even more intensively than they currently do in their waters. It is also important to remember here that this fisheries agreement with Morocco is part of a larger framework of cooperation and partnership by means of which the European Union also grants Morocco major commercial concessions and considerable support for its development. From the European Union’s point of view, it is important to point out that there are some Member States that feel that the cost to the budget of the European Union’s fisheries agreements with third countries is excessive. This is why I would like to use my speech to highlight four points. Firstly, it is important to highlight the fact that the fisheries agreement with Morocco is by far the most important one the European Union has, representing more than 30% of all catches by the Community fleet in third country waters. The 30,000 jobs which are directly or indirectly dependent on this Agreement may seem few on a European Union-wide scale, but the fact that they are concentrated in small fishing communities, mainly on the Portuguese and Spanish coasts, which have no tradition of economic compensation and no likelihood of receiving any could make the elimination of these jobs an extremely serious matter. Secondly, it is important to remind those Member States of the Union that are less enthusiastic about these fisheries agreements that a study made recently by independent experts shows that in return for the EUR 485 million spent by the Union in payment for access to third country waters, we gain a volume of business of around EUR 1500 million, which means that the benefits gained from the international fisheries agreements are three times greater than the costs they incur. Thirdly, I would also like to highlight the fact that these agreements create an added value of EUR 107 million for these third countries, generating around 18,000 jobs, which means that as well as respecting the biological balance of species, the European Union’s fisheries agreements with these countries have contributed to their long-term development. Fourthly, I would like to emphasise the importance of the sustainability of this agreement, because only a time-scale of at least five or six years would be able to provide a degree of stability for those working in the industry, and a certain medium-term vision in order to implement structural action on controls, assessment and supervision."@en1

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