- The Association Council -
Luxembourg, 9 October 2000
UE-MA 2703/1/00 REV 1 (Presse 371)
FIRST MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION COUNCIL BETWEEN
THE EUROPEAN UNION AND MOROCCO
Luxembourg, 9 October 2000
The Association Council between the European Union and Morocco held its first meeting on Tuesday 9 October 2000. The meeting was chaired by Mr Hubert VEDRINE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union, assisted by Mr Javier SOLANA, Secretary General/High Representative for the CFSP. The European Commission was represented by Mr Christopher PATTEN.
The Moroccan delegation was headed by Mr Mohamed BENAISSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco.
This first meeting of the Association Council follows the entry into force of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the EU and Morocco on 1 March 2000. It marks a qualitative shift in relations between the European Union and Morocco, deepening their content in political, economic, social and cultural terms and moving towards an ambitious and fruitful partnership.
The Association Council formally adopted its rules of procedure. It discussed the state of economic and political relations between the Parties, and agreed to take all decisions necessary for the effective application of the Association Agreement.
The Association between Morocco and the EU is based on shared respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In that context, the European Union welcomes the fact that the protection of human rights and the extension of civil liberties are among the basic aims of the Moroccan authorities.
On trade and the creation of a free trade area, the European Union welcomed the first steps taken by Morocco in the gradual opening-up of its market in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement. It expressed its hope that this opening would be reinforced by regional integration between the countries of the southern Mediterranean, of which the Agreement between Morocco and Tunisia in 1999 is a good example. It recalled that the opening-up of trade should be supplemented, to form a better harmonised Euro-Moroccan area, by the application of other provisions of the Agreement, for example on competition, right of establishment, movement of capital or intellectual property.
The Association Council confirmed its wish to put in place greater liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, in a progressive and reciprocal manner, from 1 January 2001 and to continue cooperation in the fisheries sector on mutually advantageous bases.
The MEDA programme, in conjunction with loans from the EIB, should accompany Morocco on the road to reform of its structures and the modernisation of its economy. It is in that context that the European Union's aid is being pursued, taking account of the objectives and implementation of the Association Agreement.
The Association Council had an exchange of views on the Euro-Mediterranean partnership,
particularly the preparation of the fourth Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs, which will be held on 15 and 16 November in Marseilles.
During the Ministers' dinner the Secretary-General/High Representative and the Commissioner exchanged views on the Middle East peace process, developments in European security and defence policy, the Arab Maghreb Union and the situation in the Western Sahara.