EU Parliament's rapporteur on Western Sahara trade deal resigns
lalonde_610.jpg

Amid investigations into potential breach of code of conduct due to her membership on the Board of pro-Morocco lobby group, MEP Patricia Lalonde resigned today as the European Parliament's rapporteur on the proposed extension of the EU-Morocco trade deal into occupied Western Sahara.
Published: 10.12 - 2018 22:18Printer version    
The resignation comes ahead of a crucial vote on the EU-Morocco trade pact in the European Parliament's committee on international trade (INTA).

The vote is to adopt or reject a proposed text that MEP Lalonde has drafted, to be presented before the plenary of the European Parliament in January. What is at stake is whether the European Union will enter into a new trade agreement with Morocco for the parts of the territory that Morocco is illegally occupying. The Court of Justice in 2016 concluded that no such agreement can be applied to Western Sahara, unless the Saharawis consent. Though the people of Western Sahara never consented to the proposed deal, MEP Lalonde states this has been taken care of - after she met a number of Moroccan interest groups who claim to represent the wishes of the people - such as Moroccan government owned companies.

While MEP Lalonde was already the European Parliament's rapporteur on the controversial proposal to extend the EU-Morocco Trade Agreement into occupied Western Sahara, she signed the founding statutes and became one of the Board Members of EuroMedA: a foundation fronting for Morocco, based in the office space of the Brussels offices of lobby firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies - which has the Moroccan state as one its biggest clients. MEP Lalonde's fellow Board Members include former Moroccan Ministers of State, and current top-ranking officials of Morocco's Ministry of Agriculture.

Lalonde radio interview

lalonderadio_350.jpg
MEP Patricia Lalonde was interviewed by a French multicultural radio by what appears to be a Moroccan reporter. Interview was made on 18 November 2018:

“We were in […] the South […] what is called the Southern Provinces”.
“The problems of Western Sahara will not be resolved by the European Parliament.”
“I have not been on the other side of the wall. I have only been in the autonomous provinces…of Morocco”
“There is the problem of consent of the populations. But you know, when you are employed, and you can benefit from income and economic development, in general, the populations are content”.


In the radio interview, Lalonde does not refer to the “people” of Western Sahara, as the court does, but to the “populations” – a very different term. Lalonde praises Morocco’s economic development and uses this as an argument for a new agreement for the territory. The terms “Southern Provinces” are used several times. Neither the EU nor the UN apply such biased terms. Only Morocco does.  
Following these revelations in EUobserver, MEP Lalonde stepped down from the Board of EuroMedA, but did not hand in her resignation as EP rapporteur.

As rapporteur on the file, MEP Lalonde led a delegation of the INTA Committee to the occupied territory on 3-4 September 2018. She later presented a mission report on the trip. WSRW on 18 October wrote that it found Lalonde's mission report to be biased, to the benefit of Morocco. WSRW also wrote that the delegation to the occupied territory led by Lalonde was highly controversial in that it spent nearly all its time on meeting Moroccan interests, and that Lalonde herself had expressed her support for a new trade deal to Moroccan media already on the first day of the delegation's trip, without even having met Saharawis.

On 6 December, an internal investigation was launched against MEP Lalonde and three other MEPs over possible breaches of the Parliament's Code of Conduct, which requires MEPs to declare "before speaking or voting in plenary or in one of Parliament’s bodies, or if proposed as a rapporteur, any actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to the matter under consideration", regardless of "whether the membership or activity in question is remunerated or unremunerated". The investigation was initiated following a request from Greens/EFA.

Pressure mounted as two political groups - the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL - announced they would boycott the vote on the proposed trade pact.

The proposed deal has already slipped through Council (the Member States), mainly on the back of the claim by the EU foreign affairs branch EEAS that it has found that there is a "broad support" for the new deal in Western Sahara. Their methodology is weak, however, as the EEAS only consulted representatives of the Moroccan government, and pro-Moroccan individuals, such as individuals elected in Morocco's illegal elections on occupied land.

The EEAS claims to have “consulted” 112 associations and individuals.  However only 18 of them (or 16%) – all Moroccan bodies – were in fact consulted by the EEAS, rendering the assertion of a “broad” support for a new trade agreement rather questionable. As MEP Lalonde had met with the exact same groups as part of her delegation, 91% of Ms Lalonde’s mission report was given to the position of 16% of the stakeholders allegedly consulted by the EEAS. The mission report did not refer to the 94 groups that the EEAS falsely claims to have consulted, except two. More space in the mission report is given to minutes from the meeting with the French Chamber of Commerce, than to meetings with Saharawis – the very people of the territory. The purpose of the trip was apparently not at all to meet with the majority of groups in Western Sahara who oppose a new trade agreement.

Since 2016, the EU has on four consecutive occasions been instructed by the Court of Justice of the EU that no EU-Morocco agreement can affect Western Sahara without the consent of the Saharawis. All suggest that a new trade agreement will return directly to court. The Council rejects sharing its legal opinion on the matter, as it is afraid it will cause the Parliament to block the process.

Since you're here....
WSRW’s work is being read and used more than ever. But our financial situation is tough. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters – and we hope you do to. If everyone who reads our website or likes us on Facebook, would contribute to our work – 3€, 5€, 27€ … what you can spare – the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can donate to WSRW in less than a minute here.




    

Top
News:

17.06 - 2019 / 27.08 - 2010Support Western Sahara Resource Watch
21.05 - 2019 / 16.04 - 2019Atlas Copco claims Morocco's phosphate plunder is legal
17.05 - 2019 / 06.05 - 2019EU elections: how have candidates voted on occupied Western Sahara?
10.05 - 2019 / 10.05 - 2019'We deserve an answer' from HeidelbergCement
02.05 - 2019 / 30.04 - 2019Has another cargo of fishmeal from Western Sahara arrived in Germany?
01.05 - 2019 / 30.04 - 2019Continental dodges question on Western Sahara
01.05 - 2019 / 17.04 - 2019Greek-Dutch construction group sets up shop in El Aaiun
30.04 - 2019 / 30.04 - 2019Polisario tries EU Council over new EU-Morocco agricultural deal
08.04 - 2019 / 04.04 - 2019New report on Western Sahara phosphate industry out now
21.03 - 2019 / 15.03 - 2019Continental controversial contract in Western Sahara expires next year
28.02 - 2019 / 25.02 - 2019These are the MEPs who voted for the Western Sahara fish deal
25.02 - 2019 / 24.02 - 2019Bremen sheds light on massive controversial fishmeal import
12.02 - 2019 / 12.02 - 2019European Parliament disregards Court and adopts Morocco fish deal
11.02 - 2019 / 11.02 - 2019Human Rights Watch calls for Court referral of EU-Morocco fish deal
07.02 - 2019 / 07.02 - 2019110 MEPs want EU-Morocco fish deal referred to Court
06.02 - 2019 / 06.02 - 2019Will European Parliament back deal with world's most unfree territory?
06.02 - 2019 / 06.02 - 201998 Saharawi groups call on European Parliament to reject fish deal
04.02 - 2019 / 04.02 - 2019The runaway Green Reefers ship arrived Abidjan
31.01 - 2019 / 22.01 - 2019Spanish farmers concerned about EU deal for occupied Western Sahara
30.01 - 2019 / 24.01 - 2019EU Council refuses transparency on legal opinion on fish deal




EN ES FR DE AR

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

tn_law_hammer.jpg

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.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!

tn_court_photo_gdeim_izik_610.jpg

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

tn_sjovik_demo_610.jpg

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

tn_poweringplunder_eng_610.jpg

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.

WSRW.org News Archive 2019
WSRW.org News Archive 2018
WSRW.org News Archive 2017
WSRW.org News Archive 2016
WSRW.org News Archive 2015
WSRW.org News Archive 2014
WSRW.org News Archive 2013
WSRW.org News Archive 2012
WSRW.org News Archive 2011
WSRW.org News Archive 2010
WSRW.org News Archive 2009
WSRW.org News Archive 2008
WSRW.org News Archive 2007
WSRW.org 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