Council has appealed court annulment of Morocco trade deal
In December 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union annulled the trade agreement between Morocco and the European Union in so far as it was applied in Western Sahara. The Council of the European Union has now formally appealed that decision. The reasons for the appeal are still not public.
Photo above: while half of the Saharawi people live as refugees in camps in Algeria, having fled the illegal Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, the EU wishes to trade in resources from the territory they had to flee. The EU's trade agreement with the Moroccan government was found to violate European law by the Court of Justice of the EU in December 2015.
Case C-104/16 P - that is the case number of the appeal case called "Council v Front Polisario and Commission". The Council officially filed its appeal last Friday, 19 February 2016, just days before the deadline on 22 February 2016.
The agreement that is the subject of this appeal, is an extension of the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Morocco, which allowed for increased volumes of fruits, vegetables and processed fisheries products to enter the Union's single market. However, through the deal, produce from the parts of Western Sahara that have been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, could enter the EU marked as from Morocco. An offense to the people of Western Sahara, whose political representative, the Frente Polisario, filed the original court case against the Council of the EU back in November 2012, in the months after the European institutions' decision to back the enlarged trade deal.
Just a few weeks ago, Joan Soroeta Liceras, professor in international public law at the University of the Basque Country, published an article in the Revista General de Derecho Europeo, analysing the court decision. Download that article here. The article is called 'Judgment of 10 December 2015 of the General Court of the EU (T-512/12): A first Judicial Recognition in the EU of the Status of Western Sahara and of Frente Polisario as a Subject of International Law', and is available only in Spanish.
Official Journal of the European Union
22 February 2016
Judgment of the General Court of 10 December 2015 — Front Polisario v Council (Case T-512/12) (1)
((External relations - Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and Morocco - Reciprocal liberalisation of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products - Application of the Agreement to the territory of Western Sahara - Front Polisario - Action for annulment - Capacity to bring proceedings - Direct and individual concern - Admissibility - Compliance with international law - Obligation to state reasons - Rights of the defence))
(2016/C 068/33) Language of the case: French Parties Applicant: Front populaire pour la libération de la saguia-el-hamra et du rio de oro (Front Polisario) (represented initially by C.-E. Hafiz and G. Devers, and subsequently by G. Devers, lawyers)
Defendant: Council of the European Union (represented by: S. Kyriakopoulou, A. Westerhof Löfflerová and N. Rouam, acting as Agents)
Intervener in support of the defendant: European Commission (represented initially by F. Castillo de la Torre, E. Paasivirta and D. Stefanov, and subsequently by F. Castillo de la Torre and E. Paasivirta, acting as Agents)
Re: Action for annulment of Council Decision 2012/497/EU of 8 March 2012 on the conclusion of an Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products, the replacement of Protocols 1, 2 and 3 and their Annexes and amendments to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Kingdom of Morocco, of the other part (OJ 2012 L 241, p. 2).
Operative part of the judgment
The Court: 1. Annuls Council Decision 2012/497/EU of 8 March 2012 on the conclusion of an Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products, the replacement of Protocols 1, 2 and 3 and their Annexes and amendments to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Kingdom of Morocco, of the other part, in so far as it approves the application of the Agreement to the territory of Western Sahara;
2. Orders the Council of the European Union and the European Commission to each bear their own costs and to pay those incurred by the Front populaire pour la libération de la saguia-el-hamra et du rio de oro (Front Polisario).
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.