The external aspects of the resource policy are governed by the Council Resolution of November 3, 1976, known as The Hague Agreements and made public on May 7, 1981. In this Resolution, the Council agreed that from January 1, 1977, fishing by third country vessels within the economic zone of the European Community would be governed by agreements between the Community and the third countries in question. It also agreed that there was a need to ensure, through Community agreements, that the Community's fishing industry was granted or kept rights in the waters of third countries.
As a consequence, although the Community had not yet settled its internal fishery problems, by the end of 1976 it presented itself to the outside world as a single coastal State, obliging third countries which wished to fish in the fishing zones of the different Member States to conclude an agreement with the Community as such. The framework agreements negotiated by the Commission in the Community's name implied recognition of the Community's jurisdiction over the Community 200 mile zone, its right to set TACs within this zone and to give third countries access to the surplus part of TACs while obtaining access for the Member States to the surplus of co-signatory third countries.
Actually, the EU has two types of fisheries agreements with non-EU countries: fisheries partnership agreements, (FPA) with countries rich in fishing grounds, such as Greenland, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, the Seychelles and Guinea, which give those countries financial and technical support to develop their national fishing industry on a sustainable basis in return for fishing rights for EU vessels; and northern agreements, concluded with Norway, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands, aiming at that stocks concerned are jointly managed, and quotas are exchanged to ensure they’re not wasted. Some of these stocks are managed through the intergovernmental North-East Atlantic Fisheries Convention set up to manage fish stocks in the region, while other stocks are managed through agreements between the coastal states. The fisheries agreements and their renewal are negotiated by the Commission and concluded after a Council Decision, often in the form of an exchange of letters, defining the fishing rights of the EU and the financial compensation to be paid by it to the government of the country in question [see e.g.: Decision 2013/672 and Protocol; and Decision 2015/2191 and Protocol].
On the multilateral front, the EC/EU is either a member or an observer of several international fishery organisations, such as the North-West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) [Convention and Regulation 3179/78], the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) [Convention and Decision 81/608], the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) [Arrangement]; the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission (IBSFC) [Convention and Decision 83/414] and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean [Agreement and Decision 98/416]. The EC/EU is also a signatory of the Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which concerns the exploitation of the seabed [Agreement and Amended Agreement]. It had a major influence on the text of the Agreement, concluded in the framework of that Convention, on the conservation and management of straddling stocks and highly migratory species such as tuna and swordfish [Agreement and Decision 98/414]. It accepted the FAO Agreement whereby the contracting parties undertook to monitor the fishing activities on the high seas of vessels flying their flag with regard to international conservation and management measures [Agreement and Decision 96/428]. The EC/EU has signed the Convention on the conservation and management of fishery resources in the south-east Atlantic and participates in the regional fisheries organisation striving to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources in the Convention area [Decision 2002/738]. Implementing the United Nations Resolution 61/105 of 8 December 2006 on measures to eliminate destructive fishing practices that threaten vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas, the EC/EU protects vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas from the adverse impacts of bottom fishing gears [Regulation 734/2008]. The EU is a party to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing [Decision 2011/443 and Agreement].