EU fishing dispute implodes as top court throws out pact with Morocco – bloc in chaos

Brexit: Nicki Holmyard on 'devastating' impact on fisheries

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The Polisario Front, a rebel national liberation movement by the Sahrawi people claiming the Western Sahara, had issued a complaint to the European top court over Brussels’ fisheries agreement with Morocco in 2019. The court has today ruled in favour of the Algerian-based group and annulled the deal.

The Polisario brought an action to challenge the agreement because the European Union and Morocco were “not authorised to conclude an international agreement applicable to the Sahara” and the Polisario “represented” the Sahrawi people.

Today, the General Court annulled the contested agreement between Morocco and Brussels in favour of Polisario but decided that “the effects of those decisions be maintained over a certain period, since annulling them with immediate effect could have serious consequences on the European Union’s external action and call into doubt legal certainty in respect of the international commitments to which it has agreed”.

The ruling added: “The Court upholds the applicant’s argument that the requirement relating to the consent of the people of Western Sahara, as a third party to the agreements at issue, for the purposes of the principle of the relative effect of treaties, has not been respected.

“In that regard, the Court considers that the rule of international law, according to which the consent of a third party to an international agreement may be presumed where the parties to that agreement intended to confer rights on it, is not applicable in the present case, since the agreements at issue are not intended to confer rights on the people of Western Sahara, but to impose obligations on them.”

More to follow…

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