Polisario blocks agreements between the EU and Morocco
Telesur | 18th July 2023
A representative of the Polisario Liberation Front said the illegal agreement on fishing and agriculture has led to the installation of Moroccan settlers in the territories of Western Sahara. This has forced the Saharawi population to abandon "their homes, their better lands, and their jobs, forced into unemployment, crime, or emigration."
The Polisario Front announces that the fishing agreement between the European Union (EU) and Morocco, which has recently expired, must respect the sovereignty of the Saharawi territories before its reactivation. All agreements affecting "land, territorial sea or airspace will be rejected," the statement underlined.
This agreement expired on July 17. It functioned as a protocol that granted, on the part of Morocco, almost 100 fishing licenses to Spanish fishing boats. According to complaints from the Polisario Front, "these fishing companies looted for many years Sahrawi fishing areas of more than 1,000 kilometers." Omar Mansour, representative of the Polisario Front for the EU, added that these Spanish fishing boats were "violating all legal norms, without the consent of the Saharawi people and their authorities."
In 2019, Morocco exported 434 million euros worth of fish, tomatoes, and melon from Western Sahara to the EU, according to data from the European Commission.
In October 2021, a European Union court struck down the bloc’s trade and fisheries deals with Morocco, saying that the consent of the people of Western Sahara is required to implement agreements covering the territory.
Spain has been one of the European countries that has sought for months, very enthusiastically, ways to renew an agreement with Morocco, despite the fact that the EU courts consider it illegal. The EU Council Presidency recently offered Spain a new framework to relaunch the negotiations.
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Spain, Luis Planas, awaits a "favorable" ruling from the European Court of Justice, according to EFE. Reportedly, the Spanish government hopes that the European courts will endorse the fishing agreement, which has only been annulled in the first instance.
"We have always defended, from the European Commission and the Council, the legality of the agreement", added the Spanish minister to the press before his arrival in Brussels, where the ministers of the branch will analyze the situation, forced by the expiration of the agreement and the interruption of an entire productive and employment infrastructure.
However, violations in the practical framework of the fishing agreement have been reported without pause by the authorities of Western Sahara since as early as 2013. In this sense, Mansour recalled as part of his statement that the illegal agreement on fishing and agriculture has led to the installation of Moroccan settlers in the territories of Western Sahara, which has forced the Saharawi population to abandon "their homes, their better lands, and their jobs, forced into unemployment, crime, or migration."
Since midnight this past July 17, the European fleet has been prohibited from fishing in the area covered by the fishing agreement, pending the deliberative results of the Commission.