Sunday

25th Jun 2017

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

US leaves Paris climate deal

Trump said Paris deal “punishes the United States”, even though treaty leaves it up to nations to determine own climate contribution.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit