The European Parliament today approved a new EU-Morocco trade agreement for Western Sahara, without having asked the people of Western Sahara whether they want it. "A sad day for democracy and those who believe in rule of law", WSRW comments.
In the afternoon of 16 January 2019, the European Parliament approved that a new trade deal between the EU and Morocco shall be applied to Western Sahara.
The people of Western Sahara has not given its consent, including the UN-recognised representative of the Saharawis, the national liberation movement Polisario.
The Court of Justice of the EU on 21 December 2016 had ruled that it would violate EU law to enter into include the territory of Western Sahara into a trade agreement with Morocco Western Sahara without the prior consent of the people of that territory.
"We had hoped that the Members of the European Parliament would show respect to principles of law and its own Court of Justice. We strongly condemn the Parliament's ignoring of the ECJ rulings and its clear undermining of the UN peace process. The Parliamentarians who voted for this agreement have today sent a clear signal to the wider international community and to the people of Western Sahara that democracy, human rights and rule of law is irrelevant to them", Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch commented.
"What is the point of a rule based system in Europe, if the Commission and Parliament choose to simply look away from judgments of the EU's highest Court?", Eyckmans asked.
"This comes at the worst time ever, as the UN is trying to make the parties find a solution to the conflict. Why should Morocco take part in the peace talks now, as it has signed a lucrative trade deal for the territory that it illegally and brutally occupies?", Eyckmans said.
444 parliamentarians voted for the agreement. WSRW will later publish the names of these individuals who supported the illegal agreement.
The Western Sahara liberation movement Frente Polisario condemned in a press release the Parliament's decision to ignore the EU Court.
The vote today took place in two parts. Before the trade agreement itself was voted for, the Parliament had to vote on a proposal to refer the agreement for an opinion to the ECJ. 210 voted for, 414 against and 48 abstained in relation to that proposal.
The leading MEP on the proposal to extend EU-Morocco trade relations into occupied Western Sahara wants a legal opinion to be certain the proposed Western Sahara trade scheme meets the standards of the highest EU Court. The European Parliament is to vote this afternoon.
Members of the European Parliament request more clarity before voting on the Commission's proposed trade deal for Western Sahara. Meanwhile, 93 Western Sahara civil society groups lament the Parliament rapporteur's lack of diligence on the file.
On Monday, the European Parliament's committee for International Trade decided to delay the ratification-process of the EU-Moroccan agricultural agreement due to legal ambiguities.
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.