The EU Court has now officially confirmed that five EU Member States will intervene in favour of Morocco in the proceedings to reverse the Court’s decision to halt imports from occupied Western Sahara through a trade deal with Morocco.
Photo: Saharawi holding a banner at a protest against the EU fisheries in front of the Spanish Embassy in Oslo, Norway. Spain is the main driving force behind the EU's Fisheries Agreement with Morocco, through which EU vessels fish in occupied Western Sahara.
Two weeks ago, WSRW reported that Spain, France and Portugal would intervene in the legal proceedings, and that there had been hints in Moroccan media about Belgium and Germany doing the same.
The Court has on 10 June confirmed that these five countries will indeed partake in the legal proceedings, buttressing the EU Council – and thus Morocco – in its demand to reverse the General Court’s Decision of annulling the EU-Morocco free trade arrangement covering agricultural and fisheries products as applied to Western Sahara.
In its Decision of 10 December 2015, the CJEU stated that Western Sahara “is not included in the recognised international frontiers of [Morocco] (point 232), “that the Kingdom of Morocco does not have any mandate granted by the UN or by another international body for the administration of [Western Sahara]” (point 233), and “that the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco over Western Sahara is not recognised by the European Union or its Member States, or more generally by the UN” (point 241).
Remarkable is that none of these countries recognise Morocco’s claims over Western Sahara – Africa’s last colony that was brutally invaded by Morocco in 1975. To date, Morocco continues to illegally occupy large parts of Western Sahara.
Particularly in the cases of Germany and Belgium, it seems that the decision to intervene was connected to recently signed readmission agreements between these two States and Morocco. Both Germany and Belgium have been successful in striking a deal with the Moroccan authorities to send back Moroccans residing illegally on their national territory. In both cases, the Moroccan media linked the Moroccan government’s acceptance to promises by Belgium and Germany to support the Moroccan position in the EU court cases about Western Sahara.
What is EU's position on labelling of products from occupied Western Sahara? The EU Commission has now for the third time published a response to a parliamentary question on the matter, but the latest version fails to address the question.
A clarification by the EU Commission on labelling of products from Western Sahara was published, then removed, then published again and has now been removed again from EU websites.
Two weeks ago, the EU Commission announced that products from Western Sahara should be labelled accordingly, only to withdraw that statement the very next day. Today, the Commission reaffirms its original position.
On 5 February 2020, the EU Commission announced that products from Western Sahara should be labelled accordingly. But about 24 hours later, all traces to that statement had been removed from EU websites.