Dutch government favours EU measure for Western Saharan tomatoes

The Dutch government has asked the European Commission to provide clarifications on its imports of tomatoes from Western Sahara, says the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister.
Published: 15.01 - 2014 13:19Printer version    
In his reply to parliamentary questions on 17 December 2013, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans stated that the Dutch Government would support an EU-wide approach with regard to the labeling of products from Western Sahara, rather than introducing a certificate of origin by itself.

"The Dutch government attaches great importance to the origin of products", the Minister said. Consequently, "the Netherlands have insisted that the European Commission ought to provide more clarity on the origin of products from Western Sahara, so that consumers could be informed correctly. But the European Commission has so far not taken any initiatives on the matter".

Timmermans is convinced that parallels can be drawn between the cases of imports from  the Palestinian territory and Western Sahara, but believes that the lack of consensus on imports from the latter can be attributed to the limited attention that the conflict garners.

label_and_liability_cover_300.jpgIn August 2012, the Dutch government was the first EU government to state that Western Sahara produce should not benefit from the tariff schemes granted to Morocco. The statement was the result of parliamentary questions based on Western Sahara Resource Watch's report 'Label and Liability', which documents how tomatoes produced in occupied Western Sahara find their way to EU supermarkets stamped as from Morocco.

Months later, the Swedish government expressed a similar position.

No state in the world recognises the Moroccan claims over the territory of Western Sahara.




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.
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