Thursday

28th Oct 2021

Commission under fire over Morocco fisheries agreement

  • Fishermen want Western Sahara to be part of the agreement (Photo: Commission)

A proposed fishing agreement between the EU and Morocco is causing controversy, with opponents to the agreement claiming that it will be both illegal as well as damaging to UN peace efforts in Western Sahara.

The Fish Elsewhere organisation, which includes various trade unions and NGOs from 19 different countries, insist that the agreement must be amended because it fails to specify the southern limit of Morocco.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

This means that the agreement allows Morocco to issue fishing licenses to European vessels in water which it illegally holds, which is against international law.

Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975, driving the local Saharawi people from their homes by force. While Mauritania withdrew its claim to Western Sahara four years later, Morocco remained.

Fish Elsewhere said the agreement would "set back the 15-year peace process" managed by the UN.

Nick Dearden, from War on Want, a UK affiliate to Fish Elsewhere campaign insists "that the EU won't be able to claim at a later date that it didn't suspect the obvious consequence of this agreement. They have the evidence and they must amend the agreement"

But EU fisheries commissioner Joe Borg has defended the agreement.

"Morocco is the de facto administrator of Western Sahara. So, the Commission proposal is in conformity with the legal opinion of the United Nations issued in January 2002," he said.

Mr Borg also pointed out that, on this issue, the new agreement is the same as the previous EU-Morocco deal.

The campaigners insist that the Saharawi people have a right to self-determination.

However, they are facing strong opposition from fishermen, who consider the proposed agreement a good opportunity.

"This agreement should be ratified without excluding Western Sahara as with such an agreement both the Saharawi people and the EU fishermen will benefit," said Henrik Svenberg from the Swedish fishermen’s association.

He added that his association has received requests from Saharawi producers to increase their vessels in the area as this will improve the Western Sahara economy.

In the coming weeks both the European Parliament and member states fisheries ministers are expected to vote on this agreement.

EU expected to endorse controversial fisheries deal

A controversial fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco is set to go ahead next month, despite Finland and Sweden saying the deal is not in accordance with UN resolutions over the Western Sahara territory.

Analysis

COP26 climate summit: could it be different this time?

World leaders and national negotiators from almost 200 countries will meet in Glasgow next month to discuss global cooperation in response to the climate change emergency. What outcome can be expected? Why does it matter?

Revealed: EU migration plans for Morocco, Libya and others

Leaked commission documents, dated earlier this month, outline draft migration proposals on Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. They also provide insights into bilateral moves by individual EU states.

News in Brief

  1. France and UK on edge of fishing sanctions-war
  2. Israel agrees 3,000 more settler homes, despite EU criticism
  3. Italy blocks anti gay-bashing law after Vatican lobbying
  4. EU gives Moldova €60m amid Russia gas crunch
  5. Bulgaria risks full lockdown as Covid infections surge
  6. Irish goods traffic with EU grew 36 percent since Brexit
  7. Europeans want trains instead of short-haul flights
  8. Boom time for hackers in pandemic, EU agency warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU says No to patent-free vaccines for Africa
  2. COP26 climate summit: could it be different this time?
  3. EU top court orders Poland to pay €1m-a-day in rule-of-law row
  4. Revealed: EU migration plans for Morocco, Libya and others
  5. New EU banking rules ignore 'stranded assets', critics warn
  6. Israel's besmirching of Palestine NGOs must be reversed
  7. Environment ministers continue dogfight on energy price hike
  8. Most lawmakers unhappy with lead MEP's asylum bill

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us