EU looks to avoid energy imports from Western Sahara

The European Commission recognizes the importance of respecting "the separate and distinct status of the territory of Western Sahara" when considering energy imports from Morocco.
Published: 02.02 - 2017 09:53Printer version    
In response to a Parliamentary Question on the installation of renewable energy plants in Western Sahara, the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, stated that the Joint-Declaration of several EU Member States with Morocco for future trade in renewable energy can only be implemented in accordance with international law.

“The Declaration will be implemented taking due account of the separate and distinct status of the territory of Western Sahara under international law. This might require a case-by-case assessment taking into account that electricity from renewable sources is usually traded by commercial undertakings”, stated Commissioner Cañete.

The Commissioner’s response, which came in writing, includes a reference to the 21 December 2016 Judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union, concluding that the EU’s Association and Liberalization Agreements with Morocco cannot be applied to Western Sahara, as it is not part of Morocco. The reply can be accessed through this link, via clicking the 'answer' button that is next to the Parliamentary Question's subject line.

It is not clear from the Commissioner's statement how energy developed in occupied Western Sahara could be avoided in practice, if Morocco would connect the territory's energy plants to its own national grid.

On 17 November 2016, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany signed a Joint Declaration with Morocco for future cooperation on renewable energy. Specifically, the EU Member States eye an import of clean energy from Morocco in the foreseeable future. Morocco's advances on the renewable energy front have been internationally acclaimed - but a sizeable part of its planned and operational renewable energy plants are located in the territory it holds under illegal occupation since 1975; Western Sahara.

By 2020, more than a quarter of Morocco’s entire green energy production will be located in Western Sahara, making Morocco more dependent on its illegal presence in the territory, and thus further complicating an already arduous peace process. For further information, see our "Powering the Plunder" report, detailing Morocco's attempt to green-wash its occupation and the role of Siemens in that endeavor.

Cañete's reply signals a shift in the EU Commission's position vis-à-vis Western Sahara. Where before, the Commission would consistently state that Western Sahara is de facto administered by Morocco - a theory which the Court ruled invalid - it now recognizes the "separate and distinct status" of the territory. It is a peculiar touch of irony that this first on-record recognition comes from Miguel Arias Cañete, who in his previous position as Spain's Minister for Fisheries campaigned tirelessly for the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which is applied in the waters of occupied Western Sahara. The CJEU is expected to start proceedings to assess the legality of Western Sahara's inclusion in the fish deal this year.


06.03 - 2018 / 06.03 - 2018Kosmos Energy maintains propaganda site after Western Sahara exit
02.03 - 2018 / 01.03 - 2018What is HeidelbergCement doing in occupied Western Sahara?
01.03 - 2018 / 01.03 - 2018Confirmed: Innophos key client of Western Sahara phosphate rock
28.02 - 2018 / 28.02 - 2018South Africa stands up against the plunder of Western Sahara
28.02 - 2018 / 28.02 - 2018Bermuda shipping company drops Western Sahara
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018EU and Morocco announce continued fisheries partnership
27.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018EU Parliament slams Commission on Western Sahara talks
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018Polisario: open to negotiate Western Sahara deals with the EU
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018Saharawi refugees celebrate EU Court victory
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018BREAKING: EU Court stops EU-Morocco fish deal in Western Sahara
23.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018SA Court confirms: Morocco has no ownership over Saharawi phoshates
23.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018EU Member States disagree over toxic fertilizers
21.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018Vigeo Eiris goes back on false claim
20.02 - 2018 / 20.02 - 2018EU Parliamentarians concerned over Commission's respect of rule of law
15.02 - 2018 / 15.02 - 2018Sweden to vote against new EU-Morocco fish talks
08.02 - 2018 / 08.02 - 2018Studies continue on Kosmos Energy's block
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Kosmos and Cairn have pulled out of Western Sahara
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Why WSRW refuses to take part in the EU's Western Sahara consultation
03.02 - 2018 / 03.02 - 2018Unison condemnation of the EU Commission from Western Sahara groups
02.02 - 2018 / 01.02 - 2018Siemens fails to respond Western Sahara question at AGM


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.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies


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.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


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.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder


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. News Archive 2018 News Archive 2017 News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy