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Free Trade agreement EU – Morocco: The EU continues to destroy small scale sustainable farming

21 January 2011

The European Parliament recently held a hearing on the free trade agreement between the EU and Morocco, which was approved by the European Commission and European Council in December of 2010. Within the framework of the Lisbon treaty, the European Parliament must now take a decision on this agreement during the first semester of 2011. Besides the the lack of transparency in the negotiations held by the EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, with various regions and countries, a number of problems came to light at the time of the meeting. Firstly, this agreement will lead to an increase in exports with little restriction on fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, apples... entering the EU from Morocco. This will have a disastrous effect on farmers and the food processing sector, especially in Southern European nations. It will enhance the negative consequences felt from the agreement currently in vigour. Secondly, it will not benefit the small-scale family farmers of Morocco either; instead, it will allow a handful of large companies and investment funds to reap the benefits of the fertile land and valuable natural resources (such as water) whilst avoiding European social and environmental regulations. Furthermore, an agricultural sector that is geared towards export will not help to improve food supplies for the people of Morocco. Rather than investing in sustainable farming, Morocco's smallholder farmers will be forced to become hired help on miserable salaries; this will lead to social dumping and will be disastrous for European farming. The impacts of the agreement in vigour since 1995 have not been evaluated by the Commission, but the voices of farmer associations and food processors are clear. An increase in liberalisation will be damaging to fruit and vegetable farming, will increase desertification and will lead to job destruction in rural areas. The lack of control over products that come from Morocco and do not meet European safety and quality norms places the food security of the EU in great danger. On a judicial level, it is not clear if the territory of Western Sahara is included in the agreement, which brings about many questions regarding the respect of human rights and the consultation of local populations about the form of agriculture to be employed in their region. This agreement can not be viewed as separate from the reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy that are currently being debated. The agreement has no social-labour or environmental clauses, and it increases the industrialisation of agriculture and the commodification of food. Who should produce food for Europe's citizens? What forms of production and processing do we want to promote? Where should it be carried out? These are the key questions, and the free trade agreement with Morocco provides deceptive answers on social, environmental and financial levels. European Coordination Via Campesina calls on the members of the European Parliament to reject this agreement that would have disastrous consequences on either side of the Mediterranean. Contacts: Andrés Gongora: +34619301754 André Bouchut: +33673395899

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