In its decision issued on Tuesday, February 27, the European Court of Justice ruled that the inclusion of the Western Sahara territory into the scope of the application of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement would constitute a violation of several rules of general international law applicable in relations between the EU and Morocco. especially the principle of self-determination.
The Court notes that Morocco can exercise its sovereign rights exclusively over “its territorial waters, which fall under its territorial sea or its exclusive economic zones”. “The Court therefore concludes that, given that the territory of Western Sahara is not part of the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco, neither the territorial waters of the Western Sahara fall outside the Moroccan fishing zone to which the fisheries agreement relates,” the Court stated.
In this regard, the Court stated that “the Moroccan fishing zone” to which the treaty applies does not include the territorial waters of the Western Sahara.
The court issued this decision on the appeal filed by the High Court of Justice of the United Kingdom. Namely, the British NGO Western Sahara Campaign (WSC), which advocates the right to self-determination of the Western Sahara, filed an appeal, arguing that the fisheries agreement concluded between the Union and Morocco, as well as the acts on the basis of which this agreement is confirmed and applies, invalid, as long as the agreement and the related acts apply to the territory of the Western Sahara and to its waters.
On 10 January 2018, the European Court of Justice’s lawyer, Melchior Wathelet, concluded that the EU-Morocco fishing agreement is invalid “because it applies to Western Sahara and its territorial waters”.