The European Court of Justice on February 27 ruled that the 2006 Fisheries Agreement between the European Union and Morocco is valid as long as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and its adjacent waters.

As the Court has previously held in its judgment of 21 December 2016, this concept itself refers to the geographical area over which the Kingdom of Morocco exercises its sovereign powers under international law, to the exclusion of any other territory, such as that of Western Sahara.

In these circumstances, if the territory of Western Sahara were to be included within the scope of the Fisheries Agreement, that would be contrary to certain rules of general international law that are applicable in relations between the EU and Kingdom of Morocco, inter alia the principle of self-determination.

The Court also noted that the Fisheries Agreement is applicable to “waters falling within the sovereignty or jurisdiction” of the Kingdom of Morocco. In accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the waters over which a coastal State is entitled to exercise sovereignty or jurisdiction are limited exclusively to the waters adjacent to its territory and forming part of its territorial sea or of its exclusive economic zone.