Concretely, the Commission and Morocco have agreed to amend Protocol No 1 (access to the EU market for agricultural and fisheries products) and No 4 (dealing with rules of origin) of their bilateral Association Agreement. The aim is to maintain the trade flow from Western Sahara within the framework of this agreement with Morocco. The draft Agreement proposes that "products originating from Western Sahara which are subject to the control of the Moroccan custom authorities benefit from the same commercial preferences granted by the EU to products covered by the association agreement". As such, no new preferences are introduced; the only purpose of the amendment is to extend the scope of the Agreement to include the parts of Western Sahara that are under Moroccan occupation.
The EU Commission on 11 June released three documents. The first two are the draft Council decisions, with respect to the sought signature and conclusion of the proposed amendment to Protocols No 1 and 4 of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement. Find the draft Council decision regarding signature here and the one relating to the deal’s conclusion here. Essentially, these are similar documents, but they will be signed by the Member States at a different moment in the legislative procedure: Council can already adopt the decision on signature now, since the negotiations have been finalized, but the decision to conclude can only be taken once the European Parliament has given its consent and the EU Member States have ratified the proposal.
The people of Western Sahara have not consented to the deal. To the contrary, the UN-recognised representation of the Western Sahara people, the Polisario, and a wide spectrum of Western Sahara civil society organisations, have rejected the EU's approach of striking a deal affecting their land with the occupying power, Morocco.
Instead of even seeking the consent of the people of Western Sahara, the EU Commission resorted to a consultation process after already having initialed the proposed deal with Morocco. And the list of consulted stakeholders, as included as an annex to the benefits-report, consists of Moroccan political bodies, state companies and Moroccan organisations that all defend Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. Find that list here, as well as an analysis of the questionable aspects of the consultation-approach.
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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.
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.
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.