Polisario asks for annulment of EU-Morocco illegal fish pact

The EU's scandalous fisheries agreement - whereby the EU is to pay Morocco to fish in Western Sahara waters which are under its occupation - has been taken to European Court of Justice. Polisario asks for the annulment of the accord, according to the Official Journal of the European Union.
Published: 22.06 - 2014 10:39Printer version    
Photo above: Many Saharawis were injured by Moroccan police as they on 10 December 2013 in frustration over the EU's plans to pay Morocco to fish in Western Sahara's waters. On the same day - at the 1 year anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU, the Parliament voted to pay Morocco millions of Euros annually for an agreement that undermines the UN peace efforts in the territory. The Official Journal of the European Union published on 16 June 2014 a case brought forward by the Frente Polisario to annul the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement.

The EU last year agreed with Morocco that EU fishing vessels - most Spanish - would get access to waters of Western Sahara currently under Moroccan occupation. Such agreement has by several legal opinions, EU member states and EU parliamentarians been considered to violate international law.

Now it is revealed that Polisario has sought the annulment of the agreement. A similar case is already on the table of the ECJ: Last year Polisario took the agriculture/fisheries protocol to the same court. Now both cases are being dealt with in parallel.

“The EU cannot continue to ignore international law and antagonize the people of Western Sahara. By including the territory of occupied Western Sahara in its trade agreements with Morocco, the EU is directly undermining the rights of the Saharawis and obstructing the efforts of the UN to resolve of the conflict”, stated Frente Polisario official Emhammed Khadad to Western Sahara Resource Watch last year as they for the first time took the intiative to try the EU's illegal practices in court.

The below text is cut from the Journal, published 16 June 2014:

Action brought on 14 March 2014 — Front Polisario v Council

(Case T-180/14)
2014/C 184/55
Language of the case: French
Applicant: Front populaire pour la liberation de la saguia-el-hamra et du rio de oro (Front Polisario) (Laâyoune) (represented by: G. Devers, lawyer)
Defendant: Council of the European Union
Form of order sought
The applicant claims that the Court should:
—declare its action for annulment to be admissible;
—annul the decision of the Council;
—order the Council to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

The applicant relies on 12 pleas in law in support of its action against Council Decision 2013/785/EU of 16 December 2013 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco. (1)

The applicant considers that, as representative of the Sahrawi people, it is directly and individually affected by that act.

1. First plea in law, alleging breach of the obligation to state reasons, the contested decision not permitting an understanding of how the Council integrated into its decision-making process the fact that the Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco.

2.Second plea in law, alleging breach of the principle of consultation, the Council having taken the contested decision without consulting the applicant, whereas international law requires that the exploitation of natural resources of a people of a non-self-governing territory be conducted in consultation with its representatives. The applicant argues that it is the sole representative of the Sahrawi people.

3.Third plea in law, alleging breach of the principle of consistency, in so far as the contested decision allows the entry into force of an international agreement which applies in the territory of the Western Sahara even though no Member State has recognised the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco over the Western Sahara. The contested decision strengthens the Kingdom of Morocco’s control over the Sahrawi territory, which is contrary to the aid provided by the Commission to Sahrawi refugees. In addition, the contested decision is inconsistent with the usual reaction of the European Union to breaches of obligations under peremptory norms of international law and is contrary to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy.

4.Fourth plea in law, alleging failure to achieve the goal of sustainable development.

5.Fifth plea in law, alleging breach of the principle of legitimate expectations, in so far as the contested decision runs counter to the expectation the applicant garnered from the repeated statements by the European Union institutions on the conformity of the agreements concluded with the Kingdom of Morocco with international law.

6.Sixth plea in law, alleging breach of the Association Agreement concluded between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco, the contested decision being contrary to Article 2 of that agreement in so far as it infringes the right to self-determination.

7.Seventh plea in law, alleging breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in so far as the contested decision allows the entry into force of a protocol by which the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco set fishing quotas for waters not under their sovereignty and authorised European Union vessels to exploit fisheries resources under the sole sovereignty of the Sahrawi people.

8.Eighth plea in law, alleging infringement of the right to self-determination, the contested decision bolstering the Kingdom of Morocco’s control over the Western Sahara.

9.Ninth plea in law, alleging breach of the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources and of Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations, the applicant not having been consulted even though the contested decision permits the exploitation of natural resources under the sole sovereignty of the Sahrawi people.

10.Tenth plea in law, alleging breach of the principle of the relative effect of treaties, the contested decision giving rise to international obligations in respect of the applicant without its consent.

11.Eleventh plea in law, alleging infringement of international humanitarian law, in so far as the contested decision provides financial support to the Kingdom of Morocco’s policy of colonising the Western Sahara.

12.Twelfth plea in law, based on the law of international responsibility, the contested decision engaging the international responsibility of the European Union.




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.
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