In disregard of two EU Court rulings, the EU Member States have today authorized the EU Commission to negotiations with Morocco for a new fisheries protocol that will also cover occupied Western Sahara.
Two months after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that no Fisheries Partnership between the EU and Morocco can be applied to Western Sahara, the EU Council voted in favour of negotiating a new fisheries protocol with Morocco that will include the waters of occupied Western Sahara.
The EU Commission announced its intention to start the talks with Morocco one month ago. The text of the negotiation mandate was released at the same time, stating that the EU considers that "it is possible to extend the bilateral agreements with Morocco to Western Sahara under certain conditions", but that the arrangement is subject to a resolution of the conflict in a UN context.
Sweden had stated it would oppose a mandate for a new protocol in February 2018 "because Sweden considers that the proposed mandate does not meet the requirements of international law."
On 27 February this year, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement is only legally valid if it is not applied to Western Sahara. The ruling was in line with the Court's previous ruling of December 2016, concluding that no EU trade or association agreement could be applied to Western Sahara - due to its "separate and distinct" status - without the consent of the people of that territory.
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