Advocate General Wathelet has delivered a landmark opinion in Case 266/16 on the validity of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco. The case raises potentially far-reaching issues regarding the relationship between the EU and third counties and the extent to which such agreements must respect public international law and human rights obligations incumbent on EU institutions.
In his opinion, the Advocate General found that “the European Union has failed to fulfil its obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the breach of the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination by the Kingdom of Morocco and also not to render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation”. The AG further found that in so far as they apply to the territory of Western Sahara and to the waters adjacent thereto, the Fisheries Agreement and a 2013 Protocol to that agreement are incompatible with EU law which imposes on the European Union “the obligation that its external action is to protect human rights and strictly respect international law”.
Conor McCarthy acts for the Claimant. He was instructed by Leigh Day and was led by Kieron Beal QC.
The judgment can be found here.