Spanish farmers concerned about EU deal for occupied Western Sahara
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Agricultural groups in Spain strongly criticize the European Parliament's support for extending EU-Morocco trade relations into Western Sahara, stating that it harms the interests of the EU's own fruit and vegetable farmers.
Published: 31.01 - 2019 09:45Printer version    
WSRW wrote in November 2018 that even though the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee favoured applying the EU-Morocco trade deal to occupied Western Sahara, it only had negative things to say about it. Among other things, the Committee had pointed out "major competitiveness issues for European producers" and that "certain fruit and vegetable imports from Morocco and Western Sahara (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, etc.) are a highly sensitive issue for the European horticultural sector".

That is precisely what is now keeping Spanish farmers up at night.

Following the European Parliament's approval of the trade deal, organisations representing Spanish farmers and exporters took to the media to express their apprehension.

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WSRW challenges these 23 MEPs to read the Opinion they favoured, and come up with one solid argument to back up their vote. The 23 suggest including occupied Western Sahara in a trade agreement with Morocco.
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On 22 January 2019, COAG (Coordinating Organisation of Farmers and Cattle Ranchers in Spain) issued a press release lamenting that Spanish farmers will have to suffer the consequences.

COAG is particularly outspoken about the fact that MEPs have voted in favour of allowing increased volumes of fruits and vegetables from Morocco and Western Sahara onto the Union market, to coincide with the Spanish production season.

COAG also states that EU consumers are left in the dark on the true origin of those products exported by Morocco, in violation of EU legislation that stipulates that fresh fruits and vegetables can only be marketed with correct labeling of origin. COAG has therefore demanded that the EU tighten border controls to prevent agricultural products grown in the territories of Western Sahara from entering the EU market as if they were from Morocco, without the corresponding clarifications in the origin certificates.

COAG's concerns are shared by FEPEX, the Spanish Federation of Fruit and Vegetables Exporters, which is deeply worried about the impact of tomato imports from Western Sahara on the tomato-sector of Almeria. The federation demands correct labeling of the origin of products from occupied Western Sahara.

As WSRW reported in early January, Morocco had rejected a mechanism ensuring traceability of products as proposed by the EU Commission at the insistence of the European Parliament's Committee for International Trade. An amendment introduced by a group of MEPs from S&D and Greens/EFA aimed at protecting the rights of consumers to know the correct origin of products  imported under the deal, was rejected by a majority in the European Parliament.




The press release below was sent out by COAG on 22 January 2019:

Tras la aprobación del Parlamento Europeo de un acuerdo entre la UE y Marruecos que extiende al Sáhara Occidental las ventajas comerciales para exportaciones al territorio comunitario:

COAG lamenta que las hortalizas españolas sufran las consecuencias de los acuerdos geopolíticos UE-Marruecos

- La decisión de la Eurocámara perjudica claramente los intereses de nuestros agricultores ya que se aumentarán los volúmenes de producto importado desde Marruecos en el mismo momento en el que las producciones españolas salen al mercado.

- Además, esta organización recuerda que los consumidores europeos  que compren producto marroquí no podrán saber si lo que están comprando viene del propio Marruecos o del Sáhara Occidental.


Madrid, 22 de enero de 2019. La Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos (COAG) critica duramente la posición adoptada por los eurodiputados que se han mostrado a favor de extender a las producciones del Sáhara Occidental las ventajas comerciales de las exportaciones marroquís a la UE. Con esta aprobación se perjudica claramente los intereses de los productores hortofrutícolas ya que se aumentarán los volúmenes de producto importado desde Marruecos, que coinciden de pleno en calendarios y mercados con las producciones españolas, y no se respetan además los derechos de los consumidores europeos a tener una información fiable sobre las frutas y hortalizas de importación marroquí.

COAG lamenta además que no se haya aprobado la propuesta de realizar una consulta previa al Tribunal de Justicia de la UE sobre la legalidad de este nuevo acuerdo comercial, lo que hubiera servido para dotar de seguridad jurídica al nuevo escenario que, por tanto, ya nace con cierta falta de credibilidad. “El proceso de negociación ha estado plagado de zonas oscuras, con presiones opacas por parte de Marruecos, en medio de un posible grave escándalo de conflicto de intereses por parte de varios eurodiputados de la Comisión de Comercio Internacional y sin un estudio de impacto, ni información estadística verificable sobre los volúmenes comerciales procedentes del Sáhara Occidental, ya que Marruecos no ha proporcionado información fiable al respecto”, ha afirmado Andrés Góngora, responsable del sector de frutas y hortalizas de COAG:

COAG sigue estimando que el Acuerdo de libre comercio agrícola UE-Marruecos vulnera la legislación europea sobre comercialización de frutas y hortalizas frescas al limitar la capacidad de los consumidores para saber claramente si un producto etiquetado como originario de Marruecos procede de este Reino, o bien procede del Sáhara Occidental. La legislación europea es clara y fija que las frutas y hortalizas frescas solo podrán comercializarse si en ellos figura la indicación del país de origen. En este sentido, COAG exige  a la Unión Europea un endurecimiento de los controles en frontera para evitar que se introduzcan en el mercado comunitario productos agrícolas cultivados en los territorios del Sáhara Occidental como si fueran de Marruecos, sin las correspondientes aclaraciones en el etiquetado.

Esta revisión del acuerdo comercial entre la UE y Marruecos se ha negociado tras la sentencia del TJUE de diciembre de 2016, en la que declaraba nula de pleno derecho la aplicación de este acuerdo al territorio del Sáhara Occidental, ya que Marruecos y el Sáhara Occidental son "dos territorios distintos y separados". La Comisión Europea asumió la vía de enmendar el acuerdo actual UE-Marruecos para poder añadir al Sahara Occidental y ahora el Parlamento Europeo ha aceptado dicha propuesta, para cuya adopción definitiva queda el trámite de aprobación por parte del Consejo Europeo.


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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

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