Rabat - The European Commission introduced a proposal for the renewal of the fisheries agreement with Morocco, with a mandate for the inclusion of the Sahara.
Rabat – The European Commission introduced a proposal for the renewal of the fisheries agreement with Morocco, with a mandate for the inclusion of the Sahara.
In a statement carried by Maghreb Arab Press, the commission said that the goal of this proposal is to maintain and develop the fisheries partnership between the EU and Morocco, “by concluding an agreement and protocol that are environmentally sustainable, economically, profitable and fully in line with international and EU law.”
The statement came in response to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco is only valid as long as it is not “applicable to Western Sahara or its adjacent waters.”
The court also warned that if the EU and Morocco were to include the Western Sahara in their agreement, this action would be against certain rules of “international law that are applicable to relations between the EU and Kingdom of Morocco.”
After nearly three weeks, the European Commission stands to respond to the ruling, emphasizing that Morocco is a “close partner of the EU that benefits from the ‘advanced status’ in the context of Union’s neighborhood policy and the EU-Morocco Association Agreement.”
He added that the proposed reforms agreement and protocol would reinforce monitoring, control, and surveillance and contribute to improved governance of the fisheries in the region.
Morocco has already made its position clear regarding the ruling. Morocco’s Minister Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch said that Morocco will not hesitate to abandon the Fisheries Agreement if it affects the sovereignty of Morocco over its southern provinces in a recent interview with Moroccan TV channel 2M.
“Morocco does not need the 40 million EUR that the European Union would pay in exchange for allowing European fishermen [to use Morocco’s waters]. There are agreements amounting to 35 billion EUR, all of which are in favor of the EU.”
The continuity of the EU-Morocco fisheries deal, according to the EU Commission “will also be beneficial for Morocco, in particular, in view of the importance of the financial contribution to be paid under the protocol as a contribution to the Moroccan “Halieutis” strategy of development of the fisheries sector, while EU operators, including artisanal vessels from several Member States, are expected to benefit from the fishing opportunities made available through the amended agreement and the renewed protocol,” added the commission.