Previous bilateral fisheries agreements had allowed European vessels access to the rich fishing waters of Western Sahara, a territory largely occupied by Morocco since 1975. Accordingly, the agreement was under fire for violating international law for failing to take into consideration the Saharawi people's wishes and interests, as prescribed by the UN Legal Opinion on economic activities in the occupied territory.
In an attempt to soften criticism on the fish deal's shaky legal grounds, the EU Commission had insisted with Rabat on inserting safeguards for human rights in the occupied territory. This slowed down the talks, as Morocco appeared uneager to play ball.
The last formal contacts between Brussels and Rabat date back to early February, when the two sides agreed to continue the talks when there was a prospect of resolving their differences.
In December 2011, the European Parliament rejected the previous EU-Morocco fisheries agreement over doubts on the deal's economic viability, sustainability and legality for including Western Sahara.
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.