While bothe Europe and Morocco are waiting for the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) these morning the 27 February 2018, many MEPs have pointed that the renewal of the EU-Morocco fisheries partnership agreement is essential for not only the mutual economic benefits, but also the EU-Morocco partnership concerning other important issues, such as migration and fighting against terrorism something one should not ignore.
The EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement is due for renewal on 14 July 2018. Both the European Commission and the Moroccan government have expressed their willingness to continue the agreement that is “essential for both parties”. I’ve been following this question for a while now and I see it as a win-win fisheries agreement that has to be renewed but don’t forget the sahrawis and their rights.
A non-binding opinion issued on 10 January by Melchoir Wathelet, Advocate General of the ECJ (The European court of justice) argued that the Fisheries Agreement is invalid because it applies to the Western Sahara and its adjacent waters. The opinion has since sparked debates in Brussels over the rights of people of the Southern Provinces of Morocco (also known as the Western Sahara). Many Brussels-based senior legal experts in international laws have also already rejected Wathelet’s opinion and said that the agreement is compatible with international law .
The EU-Morocco fisheries agreement is positive they say and will be of benefits to both EU and Moroccan citizens. One can also not ignore the strategic importance of Morocco in particular the need for cooperation against extremism. The rising terrorist threats in the region have compelled Morocco to enhance the protection of its vast territory, long borders 34 million citizens and over 10 million visitors per year. Morocco’s comprehensive security strategy combines a wide range of policies which link the improvement of the socio-economic situation to the capacity to anticipate the risk of terrorism and the operational aspects of the strategy. Security governance and the modernisation of the security forces religious reform and the promotion of moderate Islam the involvement of civil society and close international cooperation including religious diplomacy are all key to preventing terrorism and countering extremism. Reforms to improve human security and to lift vulnerable groups out of poverty and exclusion have contributed to enhancing sustainable security. But i say that Morocco still has a few big challenges ahead especially to provide quality education both to ‘immunise’ the minds of the youth against extremism and to create jobs so that hope can be restored to an overwhelmingly young population. The challenges in this region are unlikely to get any easier over the coming years.
Since 2007 the agreement allows around 120 vessels from 11 EU member states to fish off shores of Morocco in exchange for a financial contribution from the EU of € 30 million per year, plus around € 10 million from ship owners. According to an assessment report released by the European Commission in September 2017 the Fisheries agreement is effective and coherent with other EU initiatives. Statistics show that each euro invested by the EU within the framework of the agreement € 2.78 of added value are generated for the EU fishing sector but once again the Sahrawis are not included in these and they should be.
The report indicates that Morocco has also greatly benefited from the agreement but not the sahrawis. Fishing industry represents 2 % of Morocco’s GDP and the exports of fisheries products account for 9% of its total national exports. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN 3 million Moroccans depend their daily livelihoods on fisheries.
In 2008 Morocco became the first country in the Southern Mediterranean region to be given an advanced status by the EU. The two parties have since built partnership in a broad economic, financial and social section ssomething both the EU and Morocco should guard in these times of concern in the world. Many terrorist attacks were stopped in Europe thanks to the information that we received from the Moroccan Security Information Service.