MEPs confirm positive impact of Morocco-EU agreements on Sahara population

French MEP Patricia Lalonde of the ALDE Group (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), rapporteur of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade Agreements and Trade “INTA”, described the development in the Moroccan southern provinces as “undeniable”. 

Mrs Lalonde is currently visiting the Moroccan Sahara at the head of a delegation of members of the INTA Committee of the European Parliament. 

“The impression I currently have is that development in the Region is undeniable,” Ms Lalonde told the press Tuesday in Laayoune.

The objective of this trip is “to check on the ground if all projects benefit the population and if the population agrees,” she said, noting that “for the moment, it is obvious that these projects create jobs for young people and for the local population”.

Asked if the European Parliament will endorse the renewal of the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement, she noted that “it is not possible to halt economic development in a region that needs such development”. 

The European delegation includes, in addition to Mrs Lalonde, the Italian Tiziana Beghin from the EFDD Group (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy), Shadow rapporteur for the INTA Committee, the Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala of the Greens and Vice-President of the European Parliament, as well as Britain’s David Martin of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

During visits to Laayoune and Dakhla, the EU delegation held a series of meetings with local authorities, elected officials, NGOs and civil society activists to get informed about the impact and benefits of the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement on the local population. 

The delegation members also visited a number of socio-economic facilities, including a phosphate factory, “Sakia El Hamra cooperative” for the valorization of cow milk, as well as a fish-processing unit. 

According to the president of the Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra Region, Sidi Hamdi Ould Errachid, the members of the delegation said they were “amazed” by the various projects launched in the Region for the benefit of the local population. 

“As spokespersons for the inhabitants of the Region, we informed the delegation of the importance of the renewal of the fisheries agreement for strengthening the strategic partnership between the Kingdom and the EU, as well as for accelerating the socio-economic development of Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra,” he said.

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