Rabat - Almost two months after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Morocco could continue its fisheries partnership and trade dealings with EU–as long as the business did not include the Western Sahara– EU decision-makers have decided to open subsequent procedures to review and “modify” the clauses of ECJ’s ruling, reported Moroccan news site Aujourd’hui earlier today.
Rabat – Almost two months after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Morocco could continue its fisheries partnership and trade dealings with EU–as long as the business did not include the Western Sahara– EU decision-makers have decided to open subsequent procedures to review and “modify” the clauses of ECJ’s ruling, reported Moroccan news site Aujourd’hui earlier today.
According to Aujourd’hui, April 13 and 16 are two “important dates” that will have a significant bearing on Morocco’s relationship with the EU, as they will mark intensive discussions between Moroccan diplomats and their EU counterparts.
During the first phase of negotiations on April 13, Moroccan officials will meet with the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper 1) to discuss and clarify different positions sparked by the ruling. The first phase will also set the ground for the important policy decisions that will later be adopted or amended by the EU’s Council of Ministers, with the goal of discussing potential modifications to the ECJ’s decision.
The second phase will occur in parallel to the meeting of EU’s Council of Ministers, beginning April 16. Within the parameters of the council’s mandate, ministers will “discuss, amend, adopt, and coordinate” agriculture and fisheries-related policies, as well as international agreements binding EU members and third-party states.
More specifically, regarding Morocco-EU Fisheries Agreement, the council will discuss whether the European Commission should be given the green light to negotiate with Moroccan officials the new terms of the Fisheries Agreement.
Although none of the decisions derived from these phases will be binding, they will provide legal and legitimate grounds for contesting and modifying prior rulings.
As the Council of Ministers is made up of ministers from EU states, the direction of each state’s domestic and international policy already imposes a substantial impact on the council’s decisions. According to Aujourd’hui, this phase will particularly be determining for Morocco’s diplomacy, as it will involve convincing “neutral or abstaining” EU member states of the “legitimacy” of Morocco’s position regarding the Fisheries Agreement.
It is expected that the opening of new negotiations will be beneficial for Morocco, as the Commission has notably had already lent its support to Morocco’s position prior to ECJ’s February ruling. Moroccan officials, though conscious of the complexity of the situation, are said to be confident about the prospects of the country’s position.
“Of course, ECJ will again have a say in the final decision; but as long as Morocco is given the opportunity to defend its position, everything will be fine,” a source within the inner circles of the proceedings told Aujourd’hui.
“Moroccan diplomats have handed [to relevant EU bodies] all the documents and data indicating that the lionshare of the financial benefits of the agreement goes to the southern regions,” the report concluded.