Wednesday

1st Dec 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.

Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer

Jonas Grimheden is the EU's border agency Frontex fundamental rights officer. Almost seven months into his job he says the agency "could be seen as being implicated or supportive of fundamental rights violations". His recommendations have yet to be implemented.

Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says

The emergence of the new and more-contagious Omicron variant has revealed how "perilous and precarious" the Covid situation is and "why the world needs a new accord on pandemics," the chief of the World Health Organisation said.

Feature

Why Is Italy struggling to convert its anti-vaxxers?

Almost every weekend, protesters continue to hold demonstrations and sit-ins across Italy in opposition to the so-called "green pass" — proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test needed to access workplaces and a whole host of public services.

News in Brief

  1. Ukraine eyes end of EU gas transit from 2024
  2. France says ready to talk about migrants if UK serious
  3. Latvia calls for permanent US troops to guard against Russia
  4. OPCW members urge Russia to come clean on Navalny
  5. Japan bars foreign arrivals as omicron spreads
  6. US to expel 54 more Russian diplomats, Moscow says
  7. Chinese president promises Africa one billion Covid vaccines
  8. Andersson elected as Swedish PM for second time in one week

Feature

Why Is Italy struggling to convert its anti-vaxxers?

Almost every weekend, protesters continue to hold demonstrations and sit-ins across Italy in opposition to the so-called "green pass" — proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test needed to access workplaces and a whole host of public services.

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. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  2. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says
  3. Pesticides 'cost double the amount they yield', study finds
  4. Scholz's first job? Work with Poland on Belarus crisis
  5. Why Is Italy struggling to convert its anti-vaxxers?
  6. Consultancies pocketing EU millions prompts MEP grilling
  7. Russian mercenaries using EU-trained soldiers in Africa
  8. EUobserver wins right to keep VIP-jet story online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us