The EU-Commission’s newly proposed and controversial Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with Morocco has failed to gain support from the Danish Government and a broad majority in the Danish Parliament.
At a meeting this morning in the Danish parliament’s European Affairs Committee the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karen Hækkerup, presented the Committee Members with the government’s opinion that the FPA could not be supported. The Minister’s reasoning was primarily due to concerns over the agreement’s lack of ecological sustainability and in her initial presentation she only very briefly mentioned the issue of Western Sahara and Morocco’s occupation.
However, through several rounds of critical questions on the human rights issues as well as the agreement’s more general violation of international law, she elaborated on this aspect.
The Danish member of Western Sahara Resource Watch, Afrika Kontakt, was present at the meeting, and stated what WSRW believes to be the key faults of the agreement, stressing aside from the ecological aspects the human rights issues and the violation of international law. Mads Barbesgaard, Political Chairman of Afrika Kontakt, stated to wsrw.org,
“The debate and the broad majority in the Danish parliament solidifies that the issue of Western Sahara is not a fringe issue, but something that there is widespread concern about in Denmark.”
The same broad majority of the committee members furthermore stressed that they wanted the Danish Government to attempt to block the agreement when it is voted on in the Council, scheduled for a meeting in November, by working together with like-minded countries up to the Council meeting.
"We will be following the Minister’s work closely to ensure that she keeps her promise to influence her colleagues in the Council in order to stop this agreement, which is in blatant violation of international law and undermines the Saharawi struggle for political and socioeconomic justice", stated MP Christian Juhl, Enhedslisten’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, to wsrw.org.
The Committee meeting can be streamed here (only in Danish).
Since the last EU-Morocco Protocol was cancelled in 2011, Morocco has signed a large fisheries agreement with Russia, in addition to increasing its own private RSW fleet in the waters it occupies. The pelagic fish stocks in the region are considered to be under threat, particularly due to heavy fisheries off Mauritania on the same stocks. An evaluation from the former EU-Moroccan Protocol concluded that the EU fleet contributed to overfishing on all stocks in the region.
The former Legal Counsel to the UN Security Counsel, Mr. Hans Corell, comments on the EU's fisheries activities in Western Sahara.
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The UK Court has concluded that the UK government has acted unlawfully in granting preferential tariff treatment to products from Western Sahara through a deal with Morocco, and in granting fisheries quota's for fishing in Western Sahara under a fish deal with Morocco.