Rabat – While the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to deliberate the validity of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement on February 27, legal experts are continuously raising concerns about the move, warning the ECJ not to exceed its legal mandate by meddling in politics.
Jean-Jacques Nuer, an international corporate lawyer and a member of both the Paris Bar and the Law Society in London has called on the ECJ to comply with the theory of “the separation of powers” ascribed to French Enlightenment political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu.
Nuer’s statements were published by the French online investigative and opinion journal, Mediapart on February 22.
“We will have to understand – behind this obscure fish quarrel – it is to judge by a court of Justice that the presence of Morocco in the Sahara is contrary to the international law and in particular to that of the people to the self-determination. It is, therefore, a question much more political than legal,” according to Nuer’s article, “Case of the Sahara: Montesquieu is murdered!”
In his remarks, Nuer has also referenced the ECJ ruling on the Morocco-EU agriculture agreement. “The CJEU issued a judgment in 2016, ruling that the agreements concluded between the EU and Morocco must respect the relevant rules of international law applicable” in the relations between both parties.
Wathelet’s Opinion Poses Issue of Separation of Powers
On January 10, Melchior Wathelet, Advocate General of the Luxembourg-based ECJ, made the comments that EU-Morocco fisheries agreement should be declared null and void because it includes Western Sahara.
To contest Wathelet”s argument, Nuer said that this decision poses the issue of separation of powers.
The lawyer said that the remarks made by the Advocate General “exceeded his mandate describing the situation excess of power.”
The author of the opinion said that the Sahara conflict does not require judges but, “provides a field of patience and high-quality diplomats.”
“What would be a society where diplomacy would be conducted by the judges if not a government of the judges?” asked the lawyer rhetorically.
According to Nuer, this is exactly what has been happening recently, “where a qualification that is neither legal nor factual but simply diplomatic – we know diplomacy is often a balancing act – is violently defeated by one person.”
Benefits of EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreements
The fisheries ties between Morocco and the European Union date back to 1988. Negotiated four years ago, the fishing agreement provided annual permits without restriction, according to the European Union. Since then partnerships between the two entities have expanded to involve protocols from different fields, including trade activities.
According to the director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), Willy Fature, the EU-Morocco fisheries partnership is an important collaboration. Quoted by the Brussels-based news outlet, Europa Reporter, Fature said that “the fisheries agreement is an important mechanism for voicing and mainstreaming.”
The HRWF president added that Sahrawi people “have also benefited from the Fisheries Agreement between the EU and Morocco.” Fature, who visited the fisheries port in the city of Dakhla said that “there were hundreds of people, mainly women, working there in the factory,” adding that “fisheries are really a main source of employment for Morocco.”