Four months after the conclusion of the negotiations between the EU and Morocco, member state representatives in the COREPER group of ambassadors decided 29 June to provisionally apply a one-year extension of this widely criticised fisheries partnership agreement.
Sweden, Denmark and Netherlands voted against while UK, Austria, Finland and Cyprus abstained. But a majority in support of the agreement was reached after Germany, which earlier in the year had reservations about the extension, changed their opinion and voted in favour of it.
The long-standing conflict dating back to 1975, when Morocco occupied the territory of Western Sahara, is still to be resolved. The UN has since 1991 tried to find a political solution, but the conflict remains unsolved and Western Sahara is officially a non-self-governing territory. France, Spain and the major fish processor Pescanova have repeatedly demanded the extension of the protocol. 100 out of 119 vessel licenses under the protocol are held by Spain. CFP Reform Watch has previously reported on the poor economic performance of this protocol.
In 2009, a legal opinion issued by the European Parliament concluded that the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement was in violation of international law for failing to take into account the wishes of and benefits for the Saharawi people. The deal is now to be formally adopted by the Council. Before the deal is formally concluded, the European Parliament must also give its consent. Update July 7: The exchange of views that was scheduled on the agenda of the European Parliaments Fisheries Committee for July 12 is now postponed until August 31.
The story in other media:
EU agrees to prolong fishing pact with Morocco