The European Commission and the Moroccan government will continue their talks on a new fisheries agreement on 15 and 16 January in Rabat. Meanwhile the Spanish government insists on sealing the deal as soon as possible.
EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, who negotiates the terms of the agreement on behalf of the 27 EU Member States, has not given details on the pace of negotiations.
But Spain's Minister for Fisheries, Miguel Arias Cañete, has insisted the Commissioner to speed up the talks to allow the Spanish fleet to return to "the region". He fails, however, to specify which region he refers to, nor does he say anything on the need to exclude the waters of Western Sahara from the scope of the agreement. This was one of the reasons why the European Parliament rejected the extension of the previous fisheries agreement in December 2011 – prompting the Spanish fleet, the main beneficiary of the fish licenses granted through the agreement, to return home.
Ever since, Spain has been drawing money from the European Fisheries Fund, which allows for financial compensation in case of cessation of fishing activities. Arias Cañete mentions the EU aid received by the Spanish fleet, stating that “aid for cessation can be obtained for a period of 6 months, and is renewable for another 6 months with no more possibilities to extend.” With no more money coming in, Spain’s hunger for a new fish accord seems to have increased.
“The EU and its member states, including Spain, should work within the framework of international peace, and support the UN’s efforts to negotiate a solution to the conflict”, says Javier Garcia Lachica, President of WSRW Spain. “Therefore, any movement of the Spanish Ministry to push for a quick accord without considering the wishes and the interests of the Saharawi people, directly undermines the UN’s peace efforts and lends support to Morocco’s claims over Western Sahara”.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.