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EU calls on Morocco to ratify fisheries deal quickly

28 April 2014, 22:42 CET
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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union called Monday on Morocco to quickly ratify an accord opening up the country's waters to the bloc's fishermen, especially from Spain, saying the delay was regrettable.

The EU completed its ratification of the accord in December "after a very long and complicated negotiating process," the European Commission said.

With fisheries access blocked since 2011, time was pressing for Morocco to do likewise, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs spokeswoman Helene Banner said in a statement.

Morocco's delay "is regrettable," Banner said.

"We look forward to the completion of the ratification process by Morocco as soon as possible."

The deal to open up Morocco's 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) coastline to EU fishermen was approved by parliament in February and, according to Brussels, now only requires the king's signature to be ratified.

The backdrop of the impasse includes a tug of war between the EU and Morocco over access to European markets for Moroccan fruit and vegetable exports.

In April, the EU reformed customs procedures which Morocco exporters claim will increase the price of their products.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, has announced a meeting to resolve that dispute.

As part of the fisheries deal, in return for access to Moroccan waters the EU would also pay 40 million euros a year, a large part of which would be earmarked for projects to help develop Morocco's own fishing industry.

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