Andrew Willis

01.04.2011 @ 09:27 CET

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – A controversial fisheries partnership agreement between the EU and Morocco has provided very poor returns to the European tax payer, and failed to bring about tangible benefits in the north African country, according to a report sponsored by the European Commission.

The study by consultants Oceanic Développement also underlines the over-exploited status of Morocco’s fish stocks at a time when the merits of renewing the partnership agreement have caused a bitter division between EU member states, and the bloc reassesses its wider relationship with the southern Mediterranean region.

Human rights campaigners have weighed in against the controversial four-year agreement which expired in February 2011 but was prolonged for one year, arguing that it legitimizes Rabat’s annexation of the disputed Western Sahara region to the south of the country.

EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has made it clear that a longer-term renewal of the agreement which sees the EU hand Morocco an annual €36 million must display benefits to the inhabitants of the contested region, a Spanish colony until 1975.

But the restricted-access commission report, which NGOs have fought to be made public, says neither side has gained much from the deal. Read more