European lawyers are increasingly raising the issue of the danger of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) being involved in EU international treaties. This comes as a follow-up to the EU-Morocco fisheries deal that was invalidated in a non-binding opinion by an ECJ advisor on the grounds of violation of the rights of people from Western Sahara. Other legal experts, however, claim that if such proceedings continue, this would have very negative consequences on the issue since the deal on fisheries is key to the EU-Morocco partnership.
The mood in the EU is generally very supportive of the deal. Many member states, led by Spain, have expressed their support for the renewal of the fisheries agreement with Morocco. Some are worried that, in legal terms, the EU’s judiciary is stepping into the territory of diplomatic and foreign policy issues. Such meddling of the judiciary in foreign policy involves the sovereignty of a state on its territories and is therefore likely to be subject to biased opinions.
“Should the ECJ follow the Advocate General’s recommendation in its judgment, this would set a dangerous precedent. Groups advocating Kurdish or Catalan independence will feel entitled to challenge the legality of treaties signed between the Commission and Turkey or Spain,” said Jean Claude Martinez, Law Professor at the University of Paris and former Member of the European Parliament.
Mr. Martinez also added that in case the ECJ invalidates the fisheries deal, this would encourage separatist groups around the world to follow suit, challenging agreements signed by the EU. “It would be ludicrous for the ECJ to dedicate resources to the dismantling of the ongoing agreements the EU has with Turkey, for the reason that they apply to areas claimed by Kurdish nationalists.”