Rapporteur calls for referral to EU Court of Justice
The leading MEP on the proposal to extend EU-Morocco trade relations into occupied Western Sahara wants a legal opinion to be certain the proposed Western Sahara trade scheme meets the standards of the highest EU Court. The European Parliament is to vote this afternoon.
"Asking for a legal opinion does not mean we implicitly reject the Council decision or do not wish to cherish and maintain the close ties we have with our partner Morocco. Instead, it reaffirms the value the European Parliament attaches to core principles of international law", Marietjes Schaake wrote this morning, explaining her position as the European Parliament's rapporteur on the proposal to extend EU-Morocco trade relations into the part of Western Sahara that is occupied by Morocco.
Schaake also explains that potential economic benefits of such an agreement - provided it complies with EU law - must be extended to all living in Western Sahara, including the part that is not controlled by Morocco, "without discrimination and without prejudice to the right of self-determination of the Sahawari people. That is why I, on behalf of my group tabled an amendment asking the European Commission to work towards also extending trade preferences to that part of the Western Sahara not administered by Morocco".
Marietje Schaake has been Rapporteur on the file since 10 December 2018, after her predecessor, French liberal Patricia Lalonde, resigned after EU media had discovered she was an active board member of a lobby-group working for Morocco.
Schaake has built a reputation as staunch supporter of rule-of-law and respect for human rights.
In December 2016, the EU Court of Justice ruled that no EU-Morocco Trade or Association Agreement could be applied to occupied Western Sahara. Morocco has no sovereignty over the territory, or an international mandate to administer it, the Court explained. An EU agreement with Morocco could thus only lawfully affect the territory with the explicit consent of its people.
The proposal that Parliament will vote on this afternoon, does not have the consent of the people of Western Sahara. They were never asked whether they want the EU-Morocco trade relations to be extended into the part of their land that Morocco illegally occupies. The EU Commission simply negotiated the inclusion of the occupied territory with Morocco, ignoring the Saharawis completely. Nevertheless, the EU Commission claims it does not recognize Morocco's self-proclaimed sovereignty over Western Sahara and that the proposal will resort positive effects on the UN peace process.
Since you're here.... WSRW’s work is being read and used more than ever. But our financial situation is tough. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters – and we hope you do to. If everyone who reads our website or likes us on Facebook, would contribute to our work – 3€, 5€, 27€ … what you can spare – the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can donate to WSRW in less than a minute here.
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.