Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

Morocco expels EU fishing boats

  • MEPs have banned the EU from fishing in Morocco (Photo: Ross Thomson)

Morocco has told all EU fishing boats to immediately get out of its waters after MEPs scotched a bilateral aid agreement in a row over Western Sahara.

"No fishing activity from the European fleet will be tolerated and all boats operating in the area of the fisheries agreement are asked to leave national territorial waters on Wednesday before midnight," the Moroccan foreign ministry said in a statement following the decision in Strasbourg on Wednesday (14 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Under the old agreement, the Moroccan government allowed European fishermen to operate in the area in return for some €36 million per year.

The European Commission extended the deal in February, pending formal approval by the European Parliament. But MEPs ruled it did not take into account the interests of the local Sahrawi people, whose status has been in limbo ever since Morocco annexed the area in 1975.

"Morocco has no right, under international law, to sell the natural resources of Western Sahara. It follows, therefore, that the EU should not be paying Morocco for fishing rights in the waters off Western Sahara," said Scottish MEP Ian Hudghton of the European Free Alliance, a grouping in the assembly bringing together independence movements across Europe.

Spanish Green MEP Raul Romeva said: "The agreement is a shameful stain on EU foreign policy and it is time it was consigned to the past."

The decision to annul the pact, which comes into force immediately, "should not be seen as a hostile move towards our partners," said Finnish liberal MEP Carl Haglund, who led the rebellion.

For her part, EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said the European Commission would respect parliament's decision.

She added that a replacement deal might be difficult to achieve, however. "We don't know if a new fisheries protocol with Morocco is possible," she said in a statement.

This story was corrected at 10am on Thursday 15 December. The original headline said MEPs had ordered the boats to leave.

Opinion

EU's new fisheries policy: throwing a lifeline to the oceans.

European consumers eat nearly twice the fish that our oceans can provide, our over-subsidized fleet is too big, too powerful and not selective enough, writes Xavier Pastor ahead of the talks to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.

Morocco-EU trade deal draws fire

The European Parliament has signed off a trade deal with Morocco which poses questions about the status of Western Sahara.

Europeans ready to 'green' their lifestyles, study finds

Two-thirds of people in Europe, the US and China think their individual behaviour can help tackle climate change - but Europeans and Chinese are more willing to change their living standards to limit global warming than Americans.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

Europeans ready to 'green' their lifestyles, study finds

Two-thirds of people in Europe, the US and China think their individual behaviour can help tackle climate change - but Europeans and Chinese are more willing to change their living standards to limit global warming than Americans.

Feature

Dutch case opens new era for climate-change litigation

Legal action related to climate change is set to grow considerably in the next few years - especially after a largely-overlooked ruling over Christmas by a Dutch court forced the government to reduce its emission by 25 percent by 2020.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us