The European Parliament’s agriculture committee has voted in favour of a report calling for the rejection of the European Union’s new agreement of association with Morocco, ahead of a vote by MEPs on whether to ratify the trade deal.

In a move welcomed by Spanish exporters, the committee has elected to adopt a study by right-wing Italian MEP Lorenzo Fontana that recommends the abandonment of the deal, arguing it would have “negative consequences” for southern European agriculture.

At a session held today (12 July) in Brussels, a majority of committee members voted in favour of Fontana’s proposal calling for the rejection of the agreement of association, while they also rejected amendments in favour of the deal presented by the parliament’s Socialist and Liberal groups.

In his report, the Italian MEP called to the renegotiation of the agreement, with a renewed focus on “adaption to reform of the entry price system, reducing phytosanitary, sanitary and environmental differences, and the inclusion of social and anti-dumping clauses”.

Spanish fresh produce federation Fepex, which has campaigned vigorously against the agreement, called the vote a “positive” development, adding that the committee had “taken into account the extremely serious situation the (EU) fresh produce sector finds itself in”.

Fernando Gómez, managing director of export group Proexport, said: 'This decision gives important backing to the historic demand of our associations that new concessions are not made by the EU to Morocco at the cost of the fruit and vegetable sector because the consequences would be terrible for our exports and thousands of Spanish jobs.”

Crucial meetings

Following the agriculture committee meeting, tomorrow (13 July) will also see an exchange of opinions about the deal between the European Commission and Moroccan agriculture minister, Aziz Akhenouch, during a sitting of the parliament’s international trade committee.
?According to Fepex, the two meetings could prove crucial in deciding the future of the deal, as European MEPs have still to vote on whether to ratify it.

However, regardless of the decision of the agriculture committee, Fepex said that it expected the trade debate to give its approval to the agreement of association.
?In a statement, Fepex said: “It is surprising and inexplicable the backing that the European Commission continues to give to Morocco despite the general situation of crisis that the fruit and vegetable sector is suffering.”

European Parliament MEPs are expected to vote on the ratification of the EU-Morocco agreement of association this October.