Western Sahara Resource Watch and Emmaus Stockholm 17 June 2012
On July 1, a new agricultural agreement between the EU and Morocco is expected to enter into force. Its vague territorial scope will allow greater volumes of fresh produce from occupied Western Sahara to enter the EU market.
A new report from Western Sahara Resource Watch launched today documents how produce from the controversial agro-industry in the occupied territory, ends up in the baskets of unaware EU customers. The products are made on plantations owned by the Moroccan King or French-Moroccan conglomerates.
“The income and the employment that these rich lands generate only benefit the occupying power. It directly undermines the UN efforts to solve the conflict”, stated Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
The report, ‘Label and Liability’, reveals furthermore how the industry is blooming under a systematic false country of origin reporting, which leaves the customers in the dark.
“There is a systematic mislabelling of tomatoes from the occupied territories in EU supermarkets. This is in direct violation of a key EU directive which gives the consumers the right to be properly informed on the country of origin of the products”, stated Eyckmans.
In addition, the entire trade seems unquestioned by the EU. The products are certified locally as “Moroccan” in the occupied territories by the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture. These offices are remarkably approved by the EU. Through the practice, the EU has a completely different approach to the produce from Western Sahara than on the same vegetable production by Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
The report also names which vegetable labels that the consumers should be careful of purchasing in local stores.
“As its new trade agreement with Morocco is entering into force, the EU must immediately stop the imports of agricultural products from the occupied territory”, stated Eyckmans.
The report is published by the international organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch together with Emmaus Stockholm from Sweden.
Contact: Erik Hagen, Western Sahara Resource Watch, Oslo, firstname.lastname@example.org Sara Eyckmans, Western Sahara Resource Watch, Brussels, email@example.com
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 five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.