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The EU-Morocco fisheries pact, in suspense for the discrimination of the Sahara

The lawyer general believes that the Pact is not valid because it does not respect the right of Western Sahara to the self-determination and exploitation of its resources

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The EU-Morocco fisheries pact, in suspense for the discrimination of the Sahara

The EU lawyer-General claims that European Union-Morocco fisheries agreement is not valid as it applies to Western Sahara and its adjacent waters. In conclusions published this Wednesday, lawyer Melchior Walet sees a double breach in text signed by both powers: it does not respect right of Western Sahara to self-determination — right that Moroccan government denies — and does not guarantee That exploitation of its natural resources will bring benefits to Sahrawi people. "The union has failed to recognize illegal situation resulting from infringement by Morocco of right to self-determination of people mentioned," he reproached with Walet hardness.

More information
  • European justice validates EU-Morocco trade pact
  • The EU and Morocco sign fisheries agreement, which grants 80% of licenses to Spain

The opinion of EU lawyer, long-term political because of his eventual diplomatic implications, is not a definitive decision. The final destination of treaty is pending judgement of Court of Justice of EU, but its opinion usually coincides with findings of lawyer on a large majority of occasions (about 80%). The fisheries agreement, which has been in force since 2007 and renewed since two times, can refore be affected if European justice follows counsel's recommendations. and its annulment or modification would have consequences for boats that fish in se waters, among m Spanish fishing vessels.

The judicial process was launched following complaint of UK-based Western Sahara Campaign, which brought agreement to British courts for considering its application to Saharan territory invalid. The Community lawyer shares this diagnosis: "The fisheries agreement and or contested acts do not respect principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources, nor rules of international Community law (...) of exploitation of natural resources of occupied territories, nor obligation not to recognise an illegal situation, ' he says in his conclusions.

The lawyer believes that sufficient guarantees have not been concretised to prevent Morocco from benefiting from agreement without giving appropriate counterpart to inhabitants of Sahara. It illustrates it with a figure: around 91.5% of total catches fixed by pact fall on waters adjacent to Western Sahara, so for Walet, it should be that territory which collects almost exclusively economic profitability that establishes Agreement.

The agreements between EU and Morocco have had to overcome similar judicial impediments in recent times. A year ago, EU Court of Justice validated trade pact sealed between Brussels and Rabat, but determined that Sahara should be left out of it, which legally prevents Morocco from exporting products from conflict zone. The highest European judicial authority n ruled that term "territory of Kingdom of Morocco" that appeared in text did not include Western Sahara.

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