PUSL.- The European Parliament approved today an amendment to the trade liberalization agreement between the European Union and Morocco in order to extend to Western Sahara the preferential treatment accorded to Moroccan products in clear disregard for the judgment of December 2016 of the Court of Justice of the The European Union (CJEU), which upheld a complaint by the Polisario Front (legitimate representative of the Saharawi people) and considered that the agreement concluded with Morocco – which came into force in 2013 – did not provide a legal basis for the inclusion of Western Sahara since the territory is distinct and separate from Morocco and therefore could not apply to this territory except with the consent of the Saharawi people.
In the clear intention of disregarding the judgment, the EU Council then gave the European Commission a mandate to change the liberalization agreement by means of an unwarranted maneuver and a “free” interpretation, changing the meaning of the judgment. To that end, the term “saharawi people” is replaced by the term “local population”, which includes the Moroccan settlers introduced by the occupying state after the invasion of the non-self-governing territory in 1975. The aim was to establish the appearance of a legal base that would allow the saharawi products the treatment and benefits applied by the EU to Moroccan products. The plunder of the Saharawi resources by Morocco is so significant that it justifies and finances a massive military presence in the occupied territories and the maintenance of the world’s largest separation wall (2720km).
In the vote on 16 January 2019 in Strasbourg, MEPs adopted this amendment with 444 votes in favor, 167 against and 68 abstentions. The new agreement includes a tracking mechanism for the products covered, “to ensure that the benefits revert to the local population” and not to the Saharawi population as required by the CJEU ruling.
The Polisario Front issued a statement strongly condemning the “illegal and short-sighted decision of the EU Parliament to extend the EU-Morocco trade agreement to the occupied territories of Western Sahara.”
Mohamed Sidati, a representative of the Polisario Front, warned that the outcome of this vote represents “a direct blow not only to human rights defenders and international law, but to the UN-led peace process that the EU says it supports . ” He adds that the decision undermines progress and undermines the outcome of the political negotiations initiated by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General. The real possibility of facing the difficult challenge of forging a sustainable peace was thus undermined by disrespect and manipulation by the EU.
It should be recalled that the “consultation” carried out by the EU to the local population did not include the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people, in fact all the associations and the Saharawi civil movement indicated that its spokesperson was the Polisario Front. In fact the judgment never mentioned any consultation, but the consent of the Saharawi people.
The consultation process was so corrupt that it led to the resignation of the person responsible for negotiating the agreement of the European Parliament to include Western Sahara in the agreement on trade in agricultural products and fisheries between the EU and Morocco. Liberal French MEP Patricia Lalonde has stepped down as rapporteur because of the conflict of interest and her alleged links with Rabat through EuroMedA. The deputy, who is a member of the Board of EuroMedA, corporation with close ties with the Moroccan government.
In the report presented by Lalonde on the alleged “consultations” is included a Sahrawi who according to Lalond would have had a meeting with the delegation she headed and who visited El Aaiun, however, the person indicated was in Granada, Spain on the appointed day and time and with photos posted on Facebook. The “consultation” also includes companies that are owned by the Moroccan state as the OCP phosphate company, among others, clearly a conflict of interest. This so-called “consultation” of the EU is unethical, immoral and dishonest and absolute disrespect for the law.
On the one hand, the EU regularly calls on both sides of the conflict (Morocco and the Polisario Front) to avoid measures that undermine or prejudge the peace process, but on the other hand it has decided to go against the decisions of its own court which clearly condemns the inclusion of Western Sahara in EU / Morocco agreements.
Sidati urges the EU “to develop a consistent policy for peace in our region. The EU should explicitly delay the implementation of this trade agreement and, instead, articulate a plan to use trade as an incentive for a negotiated peace agreement. ”
But this vote is far from being the end, the Polisario Front, acting on behalf of the people of Western Sahara announces that it will resort to all legal avenues to reverse the illegal EU decision.
In the statement of the representative of the Polisario Front he reaffirms his high degree of confidence that the European decision will not survive legal scrutiny. Sidati regrets that “we have to go so far, because we firmly believe that our energies are better invested in the UN-led process, we will not hesitate to defend the international law and the rights of the Saharawi people.”
Indeed, the EU, with this decision, has a negative influence on the current international collective effort and reinforces an unsustainable status quo which is evident not only by the fact that the UN is exercising its responsibility, the position of the Security Council, the United States and the African Union.
According to Sidati “As part of the peace process, the Polisario Front is giving the negotiation a real opportunity. … We demand that the EU rethink this position and use trade as a positive incentive for peace. ”
We recall that neither the European Union and its Member States, nor any country in the world recognizes the sovereignty of Morocco over the territory of Western Sahara.