In January 2012, the EU Commission introduced a draft negotiating mandate for a new protocol for the EU Morocco Fisheries Agreement. The mandate sought to conclude a protocol which would oblige Morocco to comply with international law and to report regularly on its use of the funds for the population concerned, including the people of the Western Sahara. A Council decision of 14 February 2012 authorised the opening of negotiations with Morocco on a new protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement and subsequent contacts with the Moroccan authorities.
Ireland supported the opening of new negotiations subject to a joint statement with Germany and Slovenia to the effect:-
“Germany, Ireland and Slovenia would have preferred an explicit reference to Western Sahara in the mandate. Germany's, Ireland’s and Slovenia’s acceptance of the mandate does not, in any way, pre-empt our final position on any draft Protocol that will eventually be submitted for approval. The attitude of each of the above Member States to the draft Protocol will be determined by the extent to which the rights of the people of Western Sahara are protected in accordance with international law and the extent of the related reporting requirements that must be fulfilled by Morocco”
The 1st round of negotiations on new Fisheries Protocol with Morocco convened in Rabat in November 2012. The fifth round of negotiations took place on 11-12 February, 2013 and agreement was not reached. It is expected that a further round of negotiations is planned but no date has yet been set.
As President of the European Council of Ministers I have a responsibility to reflect the collective views of Council. As an agreement has not been reached, the signature of an Agreement has not to date come before Council during the Irish Presidency.