Divided Council decides to back contentious Morocco fish deal
In today's meeting of EU Ambassadors, a majority of EU Member States indicated to favour the newly proposed EU-Morocco fisheries protocol, which opens for EU fishing in the waters of occupied Western Sahara. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the UK and the Netherlands have announced that they will not support the proposal.
Though many Member States voiced their concerns on the protocol, a majority could be reached in today’s COREPER meeting. The decision to sign the EU’s most criticised fisheries protocol will be formalised at a Council meeting in the coming weeks.
Throwing its massive voting weight in the scale, Germany ended up supporting the controversial protocol that the Spanish government has lobbied so hard for. As far as WSRW understands, the German government will issue a statement that their endorsement should not be viewed as uncritical support.
Five Member States could not agree to the proposed protocol. Sweden and Denmark voted against, while the UK, the Netherlands and Finland abstained. These countries’ stances were underpinned by concerns relating to sustainable management of the available fish stocks and EU fishing in non-Moroccan waters through a deal with Morocco.
The EU-Morocco fisheries protocol suits the interests of Spain - the former colonial power over Western Sahara - which acquires an absolute majority of fishing licences available under the arrangement.
The provisional protocol still has to pass through the European Parliament, which is not expected to express its opinion before December.
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.