21 February. Fisheries ministers in the Council today approved the Commission’s mandate to negotiate an extension of the protocol of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco.
With Sweden, Denmark and the UK voting no, and Germany and Finland abstaining, the Council fell just nine votes short of stopping the mandate.
Sweden has been reported to make last-minute efforts to make Austria (10 votes) or the Netherlands (13 votes) swing and join the five Member States that disapproved the mandate. Despite these efforts, ministers voted along the lines of COREPER a few days ago the Council was one Member State short of stopping the Morocco deal.
Those who oppose the fisheries deal with Morocco, among them Sweden’s fisheries minister Eskil Erlandsson, have claimed that it violates international law as it ignores the rights of the Saharawi people to have control over their marine resources.
The Commission can now negotiate an extension of the protocol of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco. The Commission will then have to present the result of the negotiations to the Council and the European Parliament, who will both have to approve the negotiated agreement.
While the negotiations take place, EU boats can continue fishing in Moroccan waters, including off the coast of Western Sahara.
Member States back Commission mandate for Morocco