Answer of the European Commission regarding questions on the labeling of Saharawi products asked by Mr Miguel Urbán

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PUSL.- In November 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that products sold in the EU originating from Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories must be clearly labelled as such.

Further to this, the non-legislative resolution adopted by Parliament on 16 January 2019 extending the EU-Morocco liberalisation agreement to Western Sahara states that a key criterion for Parliament to give its consent to the agreement is an assurance that a mechanism will be put in place giving the Member States’ customs authorities access to reliable information on products from Western Sahara, in full compliance with EU customs legislation.

In the light of these decisions:

1 Is the Commission planning to introduce mandatory labelling for products originating from occupied territories such as Northern Cyprus and Western Sahara, as is the case with products from Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories?

2 What has the Commission done so far to ensure that the Member States can distinguish products imported from Morocco from those imported from the territory of Western Sahara?

Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Borrell on behalf of the European Commission:

The EU position concerning Western Sahara is guided by the resolutions of the United Nations (UN) Security Council and remains that Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory, the final status of which will be determined by the outcome of the ongoing UN-led process, which the EU fully supports.

The EU and Morocco concluded an agreement on 19 July 2019(1), which, without prejudice to the respective positions of the Parties on the status of Western Sahara, extends to products originating in Western Sahara and subject to controls by the Moroccan customs authorities the same preferential tariff treatment as goods originating in Morocco.

This Agreement provides for the regular monitoring of its impact as regards sustainable development and the exploitation of natural resources. In addition, a system has been set up to deliver information to the EU and Member States’ customs authorities on products of Western Sahara origin exported to the EU.

The EU recognises only the Republic of Cyprus as a subject of international law. Article 4 of Council Regulation 866/2004(2) on a regime under Article 2 of Protocol 10 to the Act of Accession constitutes the legal framework for the treatment of goods arriving from the areas not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

All food products, from the EU or imported to be put on the EU market, need to comply with the relevant legislation, including the requirement to provide accurate information on the origin or provenance of those products. Member States’ competent authorities have the prime responsibility for ensuring compliance with the entire EU acquis regarding the placing of foodstuffs on the market and the related information for consumers.