Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-01-16-Speech-2-288"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, I simply wish to ask for your understanding so that before I embark on the subject of my report, I may take a minute to speak about Morocco. I should like to warmly congratulate Commissioner Fischler for the commitment he has demonstrated in the negotiations to renew the fishing agreement with Morocco, but these thanks should also go to the Commission's entire Directorate-General for Fisheries. From the start of the negotiations we were faced with intransigence on the part of the Moroccan negotiators, who presented arguments such as “the sustainability of fishing stocks” to reduce access for the European Union’s fishing fleet. However, we know that these were not the real arguments, since they did not apply the same criteria to other third countries with which they concluded agreements nor to private agreements with various operators, including some from the European Union. Given the importance of the agreement with Morocco to the European Union’s fishing industry, this issue should have immediately been raised as a matter of great political priority within the European Council itself, in the Foreign Affairs Council and, of course, in the Fisheries Council. My impression is that Commissioner Fischler and his staff stood practically alone in this struggle, apart from one important but isolated speech by the President of the Commission. It is incomprehensible, given that the European Union is home to so many millions of Moroccans and that we have provided that country with so many trade concessions to ensure its products access to our market, that they should have reciprocated our openness and cooperation so little. This meant that the Community authorities at the highest level had major political trump cards to play, with the help of those Member States most closely concerned. We see now, however, that these cards were not played. Why was this the case? In time we will see why, but in any event, I fervently hope that we can rapidly negotiate a reasonable agreement. Let us now proceed to the subject of my report, which is Guinea­Bissau. The protocol governing fishing arrangements between the European Union and the Republic of Guinea­Bissau was signed in June 1997 and came into force in December of that year, remaining valid until June this year. Following an armed conflict in that country in 1998, the Commission presented to the Council and Parliament a proposal for a decision requesting that this agreement be suspended. Parliament’s Girão Pereira report, at the beginning of 1999, considered the Commission’s proposal to be justified and legitimate and delivered a favourable opinion. Parliament thereby authorised the suspension of the agreement for the duration of hostilities, after which the suspension would be lifted and the Government of Guinea­Bissau would be given help for support actions for the local fishing industry, for infrastructure and for monitoring activities. As a result of certain procedural and legal problems raised by a previous Commission proposal, the Commission is now tabling a new proposal. The purpose of this new text, as with the previous one, but using a different legal formula, is to grant the legitimate authorities of Guinea­Bissau a sum equivalent to the unpaid part of the financial compensation laid down in the agreement currently in force, which totals around EUR 6.5 million and which is intended solely for supporting local fishing activities, for improving monitoring measures and for reconstructing fisheries infrastructure damaged in the intervening period. On the basis of a programme of actions proposed by the Government of Guinea-Bissau, the Commission will pay over 50% of the compensation that has been provided for and will pay the balance when the government of that country has submitted a detailed report on the progress of the actions it has proposed and the results that have been achieved. This report is due to be submitted to the Commission by 31 May 2001. The date for payment may, however, have to be postponed if major problems are encountered in the organisation of Guinea-Bissau’s administration, that is, its government, following this armed conflict. Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries has therefore approved the date of 31 May 2003 as the final deadline for the processing of payments instead of the initial proposal of May 2001. Therefore, given that the Commission’s proposal is basically the same as the one to which we gave our assent in March 1999, given that the amount of money stipulated is exactly the same and given that the proposal has precise objectives, I, as rapporteur, feel that Parliament should deliver a favourable opinion on this proposal."@en1

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