The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU Member States have today approved the proposed amendment to the Trade Protocol with Morocco to include occupied Western Sahara, in spite of the lack of consent from the people of the territory - as ordered by the EU Court of Justice. The European Parliament is yet to cast its vote.
The proposed amendment will allow for agricultural and fisheries products from Western Sahara to enter the EU market via Morocco.
In December 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union had ruled that no Association or Trade Agreement with Morocco could be applied to Western Sahara, as this is a territory that is "separate and distinct" from any country in the world, including Morocco. The only possibility to have an EU-Morocco agreement lawfully affect Western Sahara, the Court stated, is with the explicit consent of the people of the territory.
But the people of Western Sahara, the Saharawis, have not consented to the proposal lumping their occupied homeland in with Morocco.
In fact, the EU Commission - negotiating the deal on behalf of the Union - has not made any effort at all to seek their consent. Deflecting attention from this essential issue, the Commission has resorted to undertaking a consultation process in which it has only heard from Moroccan elected officials and economic operators - falsely claiming that the Saharawi representation, the Polisario Front, and dozens of Saharawi civil society groups had also taken part.
The Saharawi people have been unequivocal in their protest against the EU's plans to extend the trade deal with Morocco to Western Sahara, without as much as asking their permission.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal in October.
“By adopting the Commission’s proposal to amend the EU Morocco agreement in order to cover products from the illegally occupied Western Sahara, it’s “Plunder on the Council dance floor”. I deplore that the Member States have hit a new moral and legal low. I count on the European Parliament to bring some legality to our dealings with Western Sahara and to reject the deal in the autumn. EU credibility and UN peace efforts are at stake”, said Florent Marcellesi, MEP for the Greens/EFA group in the EU Parliament.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PROPOSAL?
Find out in our briefing, outlining the most problematic aspects of the proposed amendment to include Western Sahara into the EU-Morocco Trade Agreement. Download the briefing here.
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