The new EU-Morocco fisheries agreement validated by the European Parliament

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The new fisheries agreement linking the European Union (EU) and Morocco is officially operational. In other words, the European Parliament approved on Tuesday 12 February 2019 the new fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco, renegotiated after the rejection of the precedent by European justice on the grounds that it did not take into account Western Sahara. 

This partnership agreement, which will include Western Sahara, was voted by a large majority (415 votes in favour, 189 against) after the rejection of a resolution calling on the call of MEPs green and Social Democrats to submit this new text to the evaluation of the Court of Justice of the European Union (189 votes in favour, 410 against).

In February 2018, this Court had considered that the EU and Morocco should renegotiate certain provisions of the new agreement, which were found to be contrary to several rules of international law, because it violated the principle of self-determination in Western Sahara.

The report voted by the Parliament in plenary session in Strasbourg recalls the two conditions evoked by European justice in order to reach a valid agreement, namely the explicit mention of Western Sahara and the obtaining of the consent of the population ", as well as the criterion added by the Member States," namely that the agreement must benefit the local population ".

It is explained in this report by the French MEP Alain CADEC that the Commission has followed a process of consultation of the local people (…) and interested parties ", gathering the endorsement of a" majority of interlocutors "in favour of the new agreement.

However, it emphasized that the Frente POLISARIO, inter alia, "considered as the representative of the people of Western Sahara by the United Nations and a party to the peace process, did not wish to participate in the consultation" and expressed its "opposition from principle "during technical discussions.

The EU-Morocco fisheries agreement allows EU vessels (11 Member States) fishing for pelagic and demonic species to access the ' Moroccan fishing zone ' in Exchange for an economic contribution

More than 90% of the catches of the European fleet under the fisheries agreement are in the adjacent waters of Western Sahara. This territory, the only one of the African continent whose post-colonial status is not settled, is largely under the control of Morocco, after the departure of the Spaniards in the years 1970.

The approved text, it is underlined in a communiqué from Parliament, "does not prejudge the outcome of the political process on the final status of Western Sahara and fully supports the efforts of the United Nations to achieve a political solution allowing self-determination of the people of Western Sahara ".

This adoption "confirms" that Morocco is "the only legally empowered, within the framework of the exercise of its sovereignty, to negotiate and sign agreements including the Moroccan Sahara", reacted in a communiqué to the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This vote confirms the commitment of Morocco and the European Union to the strengthening of their strategic partnership, as well as to its preservation of the desperate political and legal maneuvering carried out by Algeria and the ' POLISARIO '.

Moctar FICOU/VivAfrik

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