The text of the new EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement - which includes Western Sahara in its geographic scope but has been negotiated exclusively between the EU and Morocco - has now been presented to the European Parliament for approval.
Find the proposed "Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco, the Implementation Protocol thereto and an exchange of letters accompanying the said Agreement" here. The Commission transmitted the text to the European Parliament a week ago, seeking its green light.
A first reading indicates that the EU has agreed to pay more EU taxpayers' money to Morocco in return for more fish from Western Sahara - not Morocco. The higher quotas offered by Morocco apply to the small pelagic stocks, which are fished exclusively in the waters of occupied Western Sahara. Instead of the €80 million that Rabat had requested, the EU agreed to pay an annual €52 million for fishing privileges. That amount is still higher than the €40 million accorded under the previous deal which expired on July 14.
"We call upon European Parliamentarians to uphold EU law, and vote against a proposal that so clearly violates a ruling of the highest Court of the EU. In doing so, they would act in the interest of the people of Western Sahara - who oppose the agreement - and the interests of EU citizens, whose taxes should not be used to pay Morocco for access to fish stocks of another nation", says Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
In the European Parliament, the Fisheries Committee will first study the proposal, and then issue a recommendation to the plenary session whether or not to vote in favour of it. In Council, things might proceed more rapidly, as the Commission's department for maritime fisheries, DG MARE, has kept EU Member States updated on the progress of its negotiations with Morocco.
The European Commission and Morocco have initialed the Agreement and Protocol in Rabat last week. In order to become operative, the text requires consent of Morocco's legislative bodies, and those of the EU: the Member States and the EU Parliament. In spite of the EU Court of Justice stipulating that the consent of the people of Western Sahara is necessary in order for any EU-Morocco bilateral agreement to affect the territory, the EU has chosen to blatantly ignore that legal requirement.
The former Legal Counsel to the UN Security Counsel, Mr. Hans Corell, comments on the EU's fisheries activities in Western Sahara.
Polisario has a case, but it should be pursued when the time is right, Court implies.
Notwithstanding four consecutive rulings of the EU's highest Court calling such a practice illegal, the European Parliament has just now voted in favour of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement that will be applied to the waters of occupied Western Sahara.