Next Friday, the European Commission will formally ask the EU-governments for a mandate to negotiate a 12-month extension of the EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement (FPA) on current terms. Read: one more year of paying Morocco to fish in non-Moroccan waters.
In a meeting today, the Commission told the 27 EU-Member State Ambassadors that it is looking for legal ways to continue the current fisheries pact between EU and Morocco. The Commission wants to avoid an operational gap from 27 February onwards, which would mean terminating all EU fisheries under the agreement for an undetermined period.
This Commission’s proposal is along the lines of what the Spanish government has been lobbying for. Backed by France, Portugal and two Baltic states, the Spanish Ambassador advocated a 2-year extension. The Spanish government claims that this would “allow the EU to evaluate the real effects of the protocol, thereby avoiding repeating the current situation”; an uncertain future for its vast fisheries fleet, now active in occupied waters.
Once more, Spain chooses to ignore the inalienable rights of the people it used to colonize, the Saharawi, due to employment considerations.
Contrary to what was expected, the Commission did not present any information on the report delivered by Morocco on the benefits of the FPA to the ‘local population’ of Western Sahara.
Since February last year, the Commission has maintained that a continuation of the FPA was contingent upon Morocco proving that the agreement benefits the’ local population’. It took Rabat nearly a year to forward the requested information to Brussels - and no such information was produced during the first 3 years of the implementation of the agreement.
In the meeting today, 9 February 2011, the Commission seemed reluctant to share that information with the Member-States. Claiming to still be in the process of analysing the data, the Commission stated that such a presentation would require Morocco’s permission.
From what Western Sahara Resource Watch understands, the discussion in the Council will continue on February 18th.
The Commission has so far made no reference to the wishes of the Sahrawi people. According to the UN, no natural resource activity can take place in Western Sahara if the Sahrawi people disagree. The EU is, under Spanish pressure, looking away from their obligation to consult the people of Western Sahara, as the UN has prescribed.
Photo: 29 November 2010, the Saharawi student Senia Abderahman presented a letter to the European Commission, signed by 799 organisations, asking the EU to stop the fisheries offshore her country. So far the EU has never consulted the Saharawi people if they want the EU fisheries to take place, as the UN requests.
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.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.