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Fruit Vegetables EUROPE asks the EU Commission to act against the EU-Morocco agreement

Today, Fruit Vegetables EUROPE (EUCOFEL), the PDO Tomatoes of France, FEPEX and DPA have sent a joint letter to the president, Von der Leyen, and to the commissioners Dombrovskis (TRADE), Kyriakides (HEALTH) and Wojciechowski (AGRO), in order to express their deep concern regarding the negative impact of the EU-Morocco agreement on the European tomato market. 

For several years, Fruit Vegetables EUROPE and its members have observed the major impact of the EU-Morocco agreement on the European tomato market, due to the non-respect and non-application of the measures foreseen in the agreement. They are now calling on the European Commission about the method to calculate the flat-rate import value of Moroccan tomatoes, the need for consultations with the Moroccan authorities, the need to adapt the quota after Brexit, and the labeling and control of the tomatoes grown in Western Sahara. Despite the warnings, the situation is getting worse. This dramatic situation endangers the sustainability of the entire European tomato production system, whose social conditions cannot compete with those of Morocco.

For Fruit Vegetables EUROPE, it is urgent to act in order to protect the European fruit and vegetable sector, especially the tomato sector, from competition from non-member countries, caused by the non-respect of legislation and trade agreements. 

In their letter, Fruit Vegetables EUROPE (EUCOFEL), the PDO Tomatoes of France, FEPEX and DPA indicate that the Commission must absolutely take action regarding the non-respect and non-application of the measures foreseen in the EU-Morocco agreement.

Fruit Vegetables EUROPE asks the European Commission to:

• Change the method used to calculate the import value of Moroccan tomatoes, which only uses the prices of “round tomatoes”.

• Adapt the quota authorized by the EU to Morocco after the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

• Control the payment of Ad valorem duties. No reliable information is available at this time.

• Properly apply the cooperation clause (art.4) and the safeguard measure (art.7) in order to ensure the effective implementation of the agreement.

• Consult with Moroccan authorities to ensure that the objectives of the Protocol are met.

• Clarify, standardize and control the manner of collecting and calculating the price of Moroccan tomatoes in the EU, so that the standard import value prices declared by the member states accurately reflect the reality of the EU markets.

• Monitor the tomato imports from Western Sahara through isotopic analyses and require special labeling to avoid fraud in origin. European consumers must be able to identify the products from this internationally disputed territory.

- The secretary general of Fruit Vegetables EUROPE, Alba Ridao-Bouloumié, declares: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that safeguarding access to the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables produced in Europe must be a priority for European consumers, and therefore also for the European Commission. In order to face future emergencies, the fruit and vegetable sector must be strengthened to become more resilient. By its inaction and passivity, the European Commission actively contributes to the death of tomato production within the EU. European agriculture cannot be held hostage by the EU migration policy.”

- According to Laurent Bergé, president of the PDO Tomatoes of France and vice-president of Fruit Vegetables EUROPE, “the quota must be adapted after Brexit. The EU-27 quota stayed at 285,000 t despite the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Besides, the UK allowed Morocco a quota of 47,510 tons. Nevertheless, the Commission has not corrected the quota or deducted the quota granted by the UK to Morocco. We believe the new quota should be 237,490 t instead of 285,000 t, and we, therefore, ask for a correction.”

José Maria Pozancos, general director of FEPEX claims: “The EU-Morocco agreement clearly states that the concessions it includes, i.e. the quota rate of 285,000 t and the reduction of the entry price, aim at maintaining the traditional trends and avoiding disruptions to the market. Nevertheless, this is not respected, since the Moroccan tomato imports on the European market have increased steadily and significantly in the past few years (the traditional level being 332,231 t - average 2009-2011). This is evidenced by the fact that Morocco exported 518,190 t to the EU-28 in 2020. The cooperation clause is therefore also not applied.”

Finally, according to Wim Rodenburg of DPA, “The origin of the tomatoes cultivated in Western Sahara should be monitored by the EU and special labeling should be put in place to distinguish the products from Morocco and Western Sahara. Such controls can be carried out through isotopic analyses, for example. There is strict legislation in the EU that requires that origins must be labeled properly. Otherwise, it is a fraud we strongly condemn.”

For more information:
Fruit Vegetables EUROPE
38, Rue de la Loi - 1040 Bruxelles (Belgium)
Phone: +32 2 721 7288 

PDO Tomatoes and Cucumbers of France
Philippe Hériard
Agence Droit Devant
Phone: +33 6 12 46 21 38  

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