Rabat - On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice announced its verdict on the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, reaffirming the validity of the deal between the two parties.
Rabat – On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice announced its verdict on the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, reaffirming the validity of the deal between the two parties.
According to the EJC, the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco “is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara to its adjacent waters.”
The court concluded that if the two parties included the Western Sahara territory in the scope of their fisheries agreement “that would be contrary to certain rules of general international law that are applicable in relations between the EU and Kingdom of Morocco.”
The EU court added that the fisheries deal is applicable to “waters falling within the sovereignty or jurisdiction” of Morocco.
In accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, “the waters over which a coastal State is entitled to exercise sovereignty or jurisdiction are limited exclusively to the waters adjacent to its territory and forming part of its territorial sea or of its exclusive economic zone.”
The recent ECJ judgment resembles an announcement issued in December 2016 ruling on the Morocco-EU agriculture agreement. According to the judgment, the agreements between the EU and Morocco must respect the relevant rules of international law applicable in relations between both parties.
Fishery ties between Morocco and the European Union date back to 1988. Negotiated four years ago, the fisheries agreement provides annual permits without restriction, according to the European Union. Since that time, partnerships between the two entities have expanded to involve protocols from different fields, including trade activities.
The judgment of the court came after an opinion made by Melchior Wathelet, Advocate General of the Luxembourg-based ECJ, who said that the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement should be declared null and void because it includes Western Sahara. The separatist Polisario group, which has been claiming autonomy in the Western Sahara throughout the four-decade-long conflict with Morocco, has also been filing appeals against the agreement.
However, international legal experts have raised concerns over the ECJ’s verdict, urging it to 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.
The lawyer said that the remarks made by the advocate general “exceeded his mandate describing the situation excess of power.”