Vice-President Borrell lies on consultation with the Saharawi population

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PUSL.- In a written response to the question posed by MEP Janina Ochojska, the Vice-President of the European Commission says that “consultations were carried out with the interested population” during the negotiations on the EU / Morocco Fisheries and Agriculture agreements.

The Saharawi population was not consulted, nor was its legitimate representative. There were meetings in 2018 in which the Saharawi associations that participated clearly stated that the Polisario Front is the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people and the only one that can be “consulted” on behalf of ALL Saharawi.

The European Parliament’s International Trade Commission (INTA), which paid a visit from the 2nd to 5th of September 2018 , published its report in which it omitted data from the meetings held with the Saharawi associations in El Aaiun and did not mention the demonstration by the Saharawi population which took place during the visit and whose dispersion by the Moroccan occupation authorities resulted in several injured among the demonstrators.

They also “forgot” to mention several Saharawi associations with whom they had gathered, choosing to say “and other representatives”. In the report submitted by the 3 INTA members, there is also the name of an activist who was not even in the occupied territories on September 4 between 3.10 and 4 pm when the delegation claims to have met him, the activist at that time was in Granada, Spain according to photos published on facebook.

According to reports by activists from various associations who met at the Hotel Parador in El Aaiun with the EP delegation, everyone clearly reaffirmed to the delegation that the legitimate representative of the Saharawi population is the Polisario Front, another fact that was “forgotten”.

The entire report lacks credibility and rigor, such as a mention of an unidentified person who has addressed them to say that the refugee camps near Tindouf, should not be supported by the European Union and that the Polisario Front is not representative. This mention is strange since it is an unidentified individual but on the other hand, it has not been mentioned that associations representing hundreds of Saharawi have said that their legitimate representative is the Polisario Front. (see article

This delegation was headed by MEP Patricia Lalonde who had to resign due to the conduct scandal that violates ethics and ties to the Kingdom of Morocco. (see article

Furthermore, Borrell says that “The EU considers Western Sahara to be a non-autonomous territory”. The EU has no mandate to consider or not consider anything, except to respect international law. The legal status of Western Sahara is not subject to debate or “recognition” by the EU, the legal status of Western Sahara is clear and unalterable until the moment of its independence through the agreed referendum or its independence and self-determination by other means.

Parliamentary questions
6 May 2020
Question for written answer to the Commission
Rule 138
Janina Ochojska

Subject: The Commission’s policy on Western Sahara

For almost 45 years, a significant part of Western Sahara has been occupied and exploited by Morocco in contravention of international law and in disregard for the interests of the local population, whose fundamental rights have been repeatedly infringed. The United Nations has stressed, through numerous resolutions, that the legitimate authorities of the territory should be chosen by referendum of the Sahrawi people. Recalling the UN position, the Court of Justice explicitly stated in Case C-104/16 that the EU-Morocco agreements cannot apply to Western Sahara. Meanwhile, in its current policy, the Commission has allowed the application of the EU-Morocco agreements to the said territory i.e. the trade and fisheries agreements.

In view of the above:

1. By what means is the Commission monitoring whether the existing EU-Morocco agreements, insofar as they cover Western Sahara, are being implemented for the benefit of the Sahrawi people?

2. How does it intend to support the fight against COVID-19 in the occupied part of Western Sahara?

3. If the funds earmarked for Morocco to fight the pandemic are also to cover Western Sahara, how does the Commission plan to ensure that the money actually reaches the Sahrawi people?

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

The European Union (EU) position concerning Western Sahara is fully aligned with the
resolutions of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. The EU considers Western Sahara a
non-self-governing territory, the final status of which will be determined by the outcome of the ongoing UN process. The EU supports the UN process with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution.

The EU and Morocco concluded an agreement on 19 July 20191, 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 to 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 Commission and Member States’ customs authorities on products of Western Sahara origin exported to the EU.

On 4 March 2019, the Council also adopted a new EU-Morocco Sustainable fisheries partnership agreement, which entered into force on 18 July 2019. The monitoring of this
agreement is ensured through the regular meetings and reports of the Joint EU-Morocco
Commission provided under the agreement to this effect, based on the general principle of the proportionate distribution of the benefits to the populations concerned, which is enshrined in the agreement. In addition, during the negotiation of both agreements, consultations were carried out with the concerned population in order to ensure its proper involvement and to ascertain the benefits of the said agreements.

The EU emergency response to COVID in Morocco is designed, through budget support, to help the country face the sanitary and socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

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