Moroccan tack

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Further to my letter (13 December) regarding some Scottish MEPs who voted for an EU Fisheries Agreement with Morocco in spite of that country’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara, I have subsequently received a note of Corrections to Votes and Voting Intentions which shows that David Martin MEP did oppose the agreement.

I am very grateful for Mr Martin for the position he has taken and apologise for any embarrassment caused.

(Dr) Ken Ritchie

Main Street

Colinsburgh

Dr Ken Ritchie raises important concerns around human rights with respect to the new EU- Morocco fisheries agreement (Letters, 13 December).

I shared many of these same reservations when I visited Morocco in 2012 to meet senior government ministers, and I made clear that the human rights of the Saharawi and other local groups must be secured before any agreement between the EU and Morocco on fishing could be reached.

Following on from my visit, European negotiators were able to exercise considerable leverage to ensure the Moroccan government agreed to stringent human rights and democratic safeguards as a key condition of entering into this agreement.

The deal reached now allows the EU to unilaterally suspend the protocol in case of violation of human rights and democratic principles.

The EU is closely following the human rights situation in Morocco on the ground.

This is routinely discussed amongst EU ministers and outside experts and strict monitoring is in place to ensure the government complies with international law.

I would not have lent my support to any agreement which I thought did not adequately protect local populations in Morocco. I am confident that this agreement represents a good deal for Europe and points the way to a better future in Morocco.

STRUAN STEVENSON MEP

Senior Vice President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee

The European Parliament Brussels