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European Parliament votes to extend EU-Morocco Agreement to Western Sahara despite ECJ ruling

Today the European Parliament voted to extend the EU-Morocco Agreement to cover Western Sahara, despite a ruling from the European Court of Justice that declared the Agreement not applicable to the occupied territory, unless the Sahrawi people consented to it.

MEP Patrick Le Hyaric (PCF, France), comments: “This vote is a clear violation of international law and the rights of the Sahrawi people to determine their future.”

“It also undermines the legal order of the European Union as it goes against a ruling of the European Court of Justice.

During the process leading up to the vote, the European Commission was called upon to obtain the consent of the Sahrawi people before the report should be adopted, but the UN-recognised Polisario Front representing the Sahrawi people as well as 94 other civil society organisations from the region objected.

Instead, the Commission held consultations with other groups including officials elected illegally under Moroccan occupation, Moroccan state-owned companies and business groups.

Possible conflicts of interest in the matter among the Parliament’s former rapporteur, liberal Patricia Lalonde, and other MEPs were also revealed.

MEPs opposed to the Agreement being extended to Western Sahara and concerned about conflicts of interest put forth a resolution to have the issue referred back to the European Court of Justice, but this was not adopted.

Le Hyaric continues: “A responsible approach towards this sensitive issue would have been to at least wait for the Court to take a position on the Commission’s hastily organised consultation process that could not possibly have gained the consent of the Sahrawi people through their representative organisation.”

“By not taking a position on that, the European Union is backing the Moroccan occupation, in contrast to the European goal of building an international trade system based on common rules and respect for international law.”

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