Following months of talks, Morocco and the European Union still have not agreed on an extension of the EU-Morocco fisheries deal. As a result, European fishing vessels have started readying to leave the Moroccan territorial waters stirring even more concerns about the future of the agreement and the overall relations between both partners.
During the latest round of the fisheries deal-related discussions between Morocco and its EU partners, the North African nation hardened its position and asked for a financial compensation of MAD 800 million in contrast to the 400 million of the expiring agreement. The Moroccan media outlet Akhbar Al Youm said that European leaders did not compromise with Rabat’s financial demands for renewing the agreement, leaving European vessels no choice but to leave the Moroccan waters since the deal expired on 14 July. The European boats had until 15 July to leave the country’s territorial waters.
“The worst that could have been carefully prevented has finally happened,” commented Javier Garat, a Spanish president of the association of European fishing companies operating in the Moroccan waters under the terms of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement. Mr. Garat is, however, optimistic about the future and says that a renewal of the deal is just a matter of time since both sides had reaped tremendous benefits off of the deal. “The two parties have converging positions, but there exist some minor details [differences] that have not been addressed,” Mr. Garat said.
“It would be a great pity if the deal is not renewed by its expiry date, because Morocco has made it clear that during second roundtables that all European boats should depart from European water [should Brussels fail to compromise],” Pedro Maza, president of a fishermen’s association in Spain, commented in June amid rumors that both sides were having difficulties finding a common ground regarding the renewal of the fisheries agreement. To that end, Mr. Garat added that European fishermen will have to be patient for weeks or even a year before Rabat and Brussels meet all the diplomatic and administrative requirements associated with the renewal process.