While the European Parliament still has to vote on the newly proposed EU-Morocco fish deal, the EU Member States and Morocco have already inked the text.
Yesterday, 18 November 2013, the EU Council and Morocco have signed the newly proposed EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement and its corresponding Protocol
. This was done in as much discretion as possible at the request of Morocco, which appears to be somewhat hesitant as the European Parliament is still to pronounce itself on the deal.
Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal in December. Two years ago, in December 2011, the Parliament rejected the previously proposed Fisheries Agreement with Morocco, demanding the text be renegotiated for three main reasons: the deal did not respect the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara, it was not profitable for the EU, and it contained no guarantees on the sustainable management of the fish stocks, even after an independent evaluation had demonstrated that Morocco was failing on that front.
Morocco has now increased the fishing licences it will issue to the EU fleet by 33%, in exchange for an annual € 40 million. The EU's financial contribution is thus higher than under the previous arrangement, though the added burden will be borne by the shipowners using the licences.
The new fisheries arrangement will once again allow the EU fleet to fish not only in Morocco, but also in the waters of occupied Western Sahara. The European Commission has however not sought the consent of the Saharawi people on the deal which will profoundly impact the fish stocks in their occupied waters.
The EU Member States on Friday, 15 November 2013, formally endorsed the proposal in the Council for Economy. Only two countries opposed the deal: Sweden and Denmark.