Morocco’s Territorial Integrity, Red Line in any Future Agreement with EU

In the wake of the ambiguous verdict of the European Court of Justice on the validity of the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement, several Moroccan ministers and officials made it clear that respect for the Kingdom’s territorial integrity is a sine qua non for any future international agreement.

The proceedings concerning the fisheries agreement receive the highest attention of King Mohammed VI and the Moroccan government whose chief, Saad Eddine El Othmani, warned during a cabinet meeting that “Morocco will never accept its territorial integrity and national symbols to be undermined.”

El Othmani noted however that the ECJ verdict is not prejudicial to Morocco’s right to sign international agreements covering its southern provinces of the Sahara, adding that Morocco remains attached to strengthening its close partnership with the EU.

The EU’s decision making branch, the European Council and its executive arm, the European Commission, have given their green light for the negotiation of a new fisheries agreement after the termination of the current deal next July.

Fisheries professionals in the EU, notably in Spain, are the largest beneficiaries of the fisheries agreement, which generates about €350 million in direct and indirect economic activity.

The ECJ ruling on the agreement has abstained from following the view of its outgoing adviser Melchior Wathelet who declared the deal invalid because it covers the Sahara.

Legal experts have warned against the ECJ’s meddling in international agreements signed by the EU at the international level, as opening the door to pro-separatist lobbyist to challenge the legality of EU agreements with sovereign states would embolden other separatist groups, particularly in Europe, to follow suit.

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