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27 February 2018 Morocco and the EU determined to pursue strategic partnership

The European Union’s highest court has ruled on 27 February that a fisheries agreement between Morocco and the EU is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and to its adjacent waters.

The ruling  issued by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) claims that “The Court holds that, taking account of the fact that the territory of Western Sahara does not form part of the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco, the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara are not part of the Moroccan fishing zone referred to in the Fisheries Agreement, ” adding that “since neither the Fisheries Agreement nor the Protocol thereto are applicable to the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara, the EU acts relating to their conclusion and implementation are valid”.

This decision came after Western Sahara Campaign, a UK voluntary organisation, sought a ruling from the High Court of Justice in London that the Fisheries Agreement did not cover the waters off Western Sahara. The Court then referred the matter up to the ECJ. This was the first time that a request has been made under the preliminary ruling procedure for a review of validity formally covering international agreements concluded by the EU.

On 27 February, HRVP Mogherini and Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita issued a Joint Declaration underlying that they «have taken note of the judgment delivered by the Court of Justice and of the European Union on the fisheries agreement concluded between Morocco and the European Union» and they expressed their commitment in strengthening their strategic partnership and declared that they will « carry on cooperation in the field of fisheries».

The two parties agreed to «further strengthen their political dialogue and preserve the stability of their trade relations».