Mogherini's statement came in response of a Parliamentary Question from MEP Migual Viegas (GUE/NGL, Portugal). "Some of Morocco’s renewable energy development projects are taking place in occupied Western Sahara. Energy is generated there, without the consent of its people, and exported back to Morocco with the participation of EU companies such as Siemens. Companies from the EU being involved in the plundering of natural resources in Western Sahara not only hinders progression of the UN’s political process, but also strengthens Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara. What are the High Representative’s views on this situation and what action will she take in response to these unlawful activities?", Viegas had asked in December 2016.
Meanwhile, Morocco plans to exploit the renewable energy potential of the territory it holds under illegal occupation are catching speed. Construction work on the first solar plants in the occupied territory has started in April this year. The plants are expected to become operational in 2018. A new wind park, announced just a year ago at COP 22 in Marrakech in November 2016, is about to be erected.
Morocco holds three-quarters of Western Sahara are under military occupation, even though its claims to the territory have been refuted time and again by the international community. By tapping into its renewable energy potential, Morocco becomes more dependent on its untenable presence in the territory - further complicating the UN's efforts to broker lasting and just peace to this decades-old conflict.
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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.