EU Commission eying new fish deal including Western Sahara
Not awaiting the EU Court of Justice's verdict on the legality of the current fisheries protocol with Morocco over the inclusion of Western Sahara's waters, the EU Commission is already thinking out loud about its successor.
The current protocol of the fisheries agreement, established for a period of four years, will expire on July 14, 2018.
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Under the current protocol, the EU pays Morocco an annual €30 million: €16 million for access to the waters Morocco considers under its jurisdiction, and €14 million which is earmarked for developing Morocco's fishing industry. Three consecutive annual reports on the geographical spending of that sectoral support have demonstrated that 66.5% was poured into building fisheries infrastructure in occupied Western Sahara. That industry is run by Moroccans, as Saharawis have been socioeconomically relegated to the fringes of a society due to Morocco’s policy of social and economic exclusion of anyone who does not support their colonial project in Western Sahara. Saharawis who find employment, or who have managed to set up some kind of business, have had to pledge their allegiance to the Moroccan king.
It is expected that the Member States will endorse the Commission's request to open talks with Morocco in the coming weeks.
According to today's statement, around 120 vessels from 11 EU countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, The Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and United Kingdom) benefit from the fisheries protocol with Morocco.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.