The European Commission has ignored to seek consent from the people of Western Sahara as it negotiated a trade agreement with occupier Morocco. Saharawi protestors yesterday expressed anger over the EU's disrespect for the rule of law.
However, instead of seeking consent from the Saharawis, the EU has again entered into talks with with the government of Morocco, which is illegall occupying the territory, in order to trade with the resources of the occupied territory.
The legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara, the national liberation movement Polisario, has expressedly denounced the EU plans to enter into a trade deal covering Western Sahara. The EU institutions have not been in contact with a single Saharawi group advocating for the right to self-determination in order to obtain their consent. The EU has instead engaged with Moroccan state-companies, organisations and politicians. See the list of the Moroccan bodies that the EU had been in touch with.
At a conference on Western Sahara in the European Parliament on 7 June, a representative of the Commission stated that the Commission has been in what they call a "consultation process", and that they ensure that the population of Western Sahara benefit. It should be noted that the CJEU never requested a consultation process, and that the Court specifically clarifies that the benefits aspect of the deal is irrelevant. What the Court stresses, is that the people need to consent.
As it is now, the Commission is steering the new trade agreement with Morocco into another legal case, as a new agreement will obviously challenged by the representatives of the territory, as no consent has been sought or achieved.
Morocco has illegally occupied parts of Western Sahara since 1975, and prevents the UN from carrying out a referendum on independence. Non-EU states like Norway, Switzerland, USA, Iceland and Liechtenstein have trade agreements with Morocco that do not include Western Sahara. The EU, however, is under intense pressure from Morocco's main ally France, to go against the Court ruling. The Saharawis at the demonstration expressed the EU to respect the rule of law.
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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.
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