While the EU is in the process of negotiating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Morocco, 31 Saharawi NGOs recommend the EU to respect international law by excluding their occupied homeland. The organisations represent the vast majority of Saharawi civil society groups in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and in the refugee camps in south-west Algeria.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) will allow for Morocco’s progressive economic integration into the EU single market, offering the country more opportunities to export its goods to the EU and to attract European investments. In return, the EU countries will be granted better access to the Moroccan market.
If the EU sticks to its business-as-usual with Morocco – not expressly defining the geographical extent of the agreement and therefore failing to explicitly exclude Western Sahara from the deal’s scope – the DCFTA may open up huge opportunities for EU business in the occupied territory.
In their letter to the European Commission dated 26 June 2012, the 31 NGOs, representing Saharawi civil society in the occupied territories and the refugee camps, expressed the following views:
1. In all future trade deals between the EU and Morocco, we would urge that the territory of Western Sahara is clearly and explicitly excluded.
2. No Trade Agreement should be signed with the occupying power Morocco, for economic activities to take place in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, in disregard of the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people.
3. If entering into an Agreement covering the illegally occupied Non-Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara, all measures must be taken to consult the Saharawi people and respect their interests. A transparent strategy must be presented to ensure that the Saharawi people are genuinely consulted and that they give their consent to the process. In addition, a full assessment of human rights implications must precede the take-off of those negotiations.
4. The EU should encourage Morocco to show respect for human rights both inside its internationally recognised borders and in its extra-territorial behaviour, notably in Western Sahara.
The full letter of the 31 organisations can be downloaded here.
The EU Commission and Morocco have had a third round of talks to agree on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. Such an agreement aims at integrating Morocco’s economy into the EU single market – and, if failing to exclude it, also the illegitimate economy of occupied Western Sahara.
YEPP, the youth section of the EU parliament's conservative platform EPP, has asked the EU to not enter into deals with Morocco that also covers natural resources from the annexed Western Sahara. WSRW was just made aware of this text, originally adopted in YEPP congress in May.
An impact assessment ordered by the EU Commission on the effects of the envisioned EU-Morocco DCFTA confirms that Western Sahara is part of the deal's scope. But the people with the sovereign rights to the land, the Saharawis, will not even be heard as a stakeholder to the process.