In a debate in the EU Committee in the Danish parliament, 23 June, Minister of Food, Henrik Høegh stated that Denmark will vote no as long as Morocco fails to present more information on the benefits to the people of Western Sahara. The purpose of the debate was to give the Danish government the permission to vote no to the agreement.
"Our concern is still the question regarding receiving information on the benefits to the local population of Western Sahara. We have received no clear info from the Commission", stated Minister Høegh.
"The Commission will probably claim that some initiaitives have been taken in Western Sahara, and that it is moving in the right direction. The Danish position is still, however, that we until today have not yet received sufficient and clear information from Morocco regarding the question on the benefit to the local population under the agreeement. Therefore it is my opinion that Denmark can not support the formal approval. Generally, it is a topic in which we try to assert pressure on the Commission, in order for it to follow the general principles for partnership agreement", the Liberal Party Minister said.
Denmark also voted against further negotiations in February.
The chair of the EU Committee noted that all parliamentarians who took part in the debate, agreed to the Danish government's position to object to the agreement, and the government was thus given the mandate to do so.
"It is deeply deeply strange that the evaluation reports have to be so confidential. We can hardly make use of these evaluations in a public debate as long as there is so much secrecy around them. In the European Parliament, the evaluations are so confidential that they can only be seen in a locked room, after leaving the mobile phones outside", stated Per Clausen of the Red-Green Alliance.
"The evaluation of the former fisheries agreement, which would have impact on how one would asses a new agreement, has only been presented in French, and with only a 2 page summary in English. That is not sufficient", he said.
"I thought the EU spent a whole lot resources on translations, but that is evidently not the case", stated Social-Democrat parliamentarian Bjarne Laustsen, underlining he didn't understand a word of the French written evaluation report.
Pia Olsen Dyhr, of the Socialist Party, referred to international media that had mentioned that the EU evaluation showed how the fishing takes place violating central UN conventions. She also underlined that the evaluation did not cover aspects of the agreement violating international law.
"A model for renewing this agreement would be to simply make it cover Moroccan waters, and not any other waters", she stated.
Also Social Liberal Party (RV) underlined its support to the government's stance.
"Can we expect, when Denmark takes over the presidency of the EU, that all the evaluations of the European fisheries partnership agreements be published?", asked Clausen.
"We have asked for transparency around these reports, and will do so in the future", said the minister.
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.