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Fisheries agreement : The European Commission consults with the Saharawis

The European Commission has initiated a series of consultations with the Saharawis, from both the Polisario and from Dakhla and Laayoune, on the fisheries agreement.

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On the 27th of February, the CJEU will deliver its ruling on the fisheries agreement concluded between Morocco and the EU in 2014. Within three weeks of this deadline, the European Commission has initiated meetings with the Saharawis to discuss this sensitive subject.

On Friday, a delegation from the European Commission met with the Polisario Front's representative in Brussels, Mohamed Sidati. «During the meeting, we expressed our deep concern about the ongoing negotiations to include Western Sahara in the EU-Morocco trade agreement», he told SPS, the Front's news agency.

Sidati added that the discussion also focused on the «ongoing attempts to include Western Sahara in the EU-Morocco trade agreements without the consent of the Saharawi people through their legitimate representative, the Polisario Front».

European Commission's approach is the result of the strong pressure exerted by MEPs to consult the Polisario on the renewal of the current fisheries agreement that will expire on the 14th of July.

Elected officials and Sahrawi fishing professionals consulted by the EU

However this «legitimacy» which Sidati prides himself with is far from being granted. «The European Commission has also invited Sahrawis living in the southern provinces for a meeting to be held in principle in the coming days in Rabat,» a source explained to Yabiladi.

«To this end, invitations have been sent to local elected officials and associations of fishermen operating in the region.»

The purpose of this meeting is twofold : first, to make sure that the fishing agreement really benefits the inhabitants of the province, other than those of the Polisario, secondly, it sends a message to dispel the worries that could arise from the Moroccan side following the meeting with the Polisario representatives.

In mid-December, a report issued by the EU Maritime Affairs and fisheries department revealed that 75% of the socio-economic impacts of the current fisheries agreement benefit the regions of Dakhla-Oued Eddahab and Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra.

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