These MEPs blocked a parliament debate on illegal Western Sahara trade
A proposal to undo the ALDE push of removing a debate on Western Sahara trade from the European Parliament's agenda was lost by a narrow margin. These are the 153 parliamentarians who prevented a public discussion on the issue of extending EU-Moroccan trade into occupied Western Sahara.
This morning, 14 January 2019, EU Observer reported that the liberal ALDE group, with the support of the centre-right EPP, the conservative ECR and some far-right factions, had removed the debate on including occupied Western Sahara in the EU-Morocco trade deal from the agenda of the European Parliament's plenary session this week.
Parliament will vote on the Western Sahara trade mechanism this Wednesday, 16 January 2019. The different political groups had agreed to have a public debate on this controversial topic today, Monday 14 January. But the item had been removed from the agenda following a motion presented by ALDE President Guy Verhofstadt last Thursday 10 January - with backing of the above-mentioned groups.
The 153 MEPs who refused to discuss the trade that the ECJ has already found illegal, and who instead showed loyalty to an autocratic third country that militarily occupies another nation are listed below or can be found here.
The decision not to disclose the highly controversial issue to the wider public follows a scandal that saw the Parliament's leading MEP on the file, French liberal Patricia Lalonde, resign from her post as rapporteur amid revelations of her membership on the Board of a lobby-group working on behalf of Morocco. Lalonde was replaced by Dutch liberal Marietje Schaake, whose name is now attached to a biased report drafted by her predecessor.
Interestingly, Patricia Lalonde voted against a debate in plenary, while Schaake voted in favour - exemplifying the division of the ALDE group on this issue (14 for versus 11 against the debate). Remarkable was the absence of Guy Verhofstadt, who had motioned the removal of the debate from the agenda. The S&D group also appears divided, with all French (except for Gilles Pargneaux) and Italians opting for a debate. Chair of the Intergroup for Western Sahara, Jytte Guteland, was absent during the vote.
"Does one need to respect the rule of law? Are rulings from the Court of Justice relevant? What signals would an agreement for occupied Western Sahara send other occupying powers in the EU's neighbourhood? How will this agreement negatively affect the UN peace process? Why not ask permission from the Saharawi people, as the ECJ has requested? Why vote on a report written by a rapporteur who had to resign due to her active membership of a lobby group working for Morocco? Why should the EU spend millions on court cases to defend agreements that are illegal? None of these aspects will be discussed", Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch stated.
"The most cynical part is that these 153 MEPs most probably could not care less when the Court of Justice in a few years' time finds that also this agreement violates EU law. If MEPs want to defend such practice and waste tax-payers' money on further court cases, they should at least have the guts to explain the European public why", Eyckmans said. IN FAVOUR OF A PUBLIC DEBATE ON TRADE WITH OCCUPIED WESTERN SAHARA THROUGH MOROCCO - ALDE: Bilbao Barandica, Federley, Gerbrandy, Meissner, van Miltenburg, Mlinar, Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Petersen, Schaake, Selimovic, Torvalds, Tremosa i Balcells, Vautmans, Wikström - ECR: Marias - EFDD: Castaldo, Corrao, Zullo - ENF: Annemans, Elissen, de Graaff, Kappel, Obermayr, Vilimsky, Zijlstra - GUE/NGL: Carthy, Chountis, Ferreira, Forenza, Hadjigeorgiou, Händel, Hazekamp, Kyllönen, Le Hyaric, López Bermejo, Matias, Michels, Mineur, Papadimoulis, Pimenta Lopes, Sánchez Caldentey, Scholz, Senra Rodríguez, Spinelli, Sylikiotis, Vergiat, Viegas - NI: Papadakis Konstantinos, Voigt - S&D: Andrieu, Arena, Balas, Beňová, Bonafč, Bresso, Briano, Caputo, Cofferati, Danti, De Monte, Detjen, Fleckens tein, Freund, Gabelic, Gebhardt, Geringer de Oedenberg, Gierek, Gomes, Grammatikakis, Graswander-Hainz, Guillaume, Hedh, Howarth, Jaakonsaari, Jongerius, Kammerevert, Kaufmann, Keller Jan, Kirton-Darling, Kofod, Kohn, Köster, Kyrkos, Lange, Lietz, Ludvigsson, Łybacka, Mamikins, Maňka, Martin Edouard, Molnár, Neuser, Niedermüller, Panzeri, Papadakis Demetris, Paşcu, Poc, Post, Preuß, Regner, Rodrigues Maria Joăo, Rodust, Rozičre, Schaldemose, Schlein, Serrăo Santos, Simon Peter, Sippel, Țapardel, Tarabella, Thomas, Ulvskog, Van Brempt, Ward, Weidenholzer, Westphal, Wölken, Zanonato, Zemke, Zorrinho - Verts/ALE: Buchner, Cramer, Dalunde, Delli, Durand, Engström, Franz, Harms, Hautala, Jávor, Lamberts, Lochbihler, Marcellesi, Reda, Reimon, Reintke, Scott Cato, Solé, Staes, Taylor, Terricabras, Vana, Waitz
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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.