EU and Morocco to resume fish talks on 18 July
A solution to the problem "of a political nature" - the inclusion of occupied Western Sahara's waters through a deal with occupying power Morocco - is said to be close.
Published 09 July 2013

According to the Spanish media, the resumption of formal negotiations indicates an impending break-through.

In April, European Commissioner for Fisheries Maria Damanaki, had informed the EU member states that the only remaining hurdle was one "of a political nature", referring to the issue of Western Sahara.

Previous bilateral fisheries agreements had allowed European vessels access to the rich fishing waters of Western Sahara, a territory largely occupied by Morocco since 1975. Accordingly, the agreement was under fire for violating international law for failing to take into consideration the Saharawi people's wishes and interests, as prescribed by the UN Legal Opinion on economic activities in the occupied territory.

In an attempt to soften criticism on the fish deal's shaky legal grounds, the EU Commission had insisted with Rabat on inserting safeguards for human rights in the occupied territory. This slowed down the talks, as Morocco appeared uneager to play ball.

The last formal contacts between Brussels and Rabat date back to early February, when the two sides agreed to continue the talks when there was a prospect of resolving their differences.

In December 2011, the European Parliament rejected the previous EU-Morocco fisheries agreement over doubts on the deal's economic viability, sustainability and legality for including Western Sahara.

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