Home world The European Parliament incorporates Western Sahara into its trade agreement with Morocco

The European Parliament incorporates Western Sahara into its trade agreement with Morocco

Fishermen in Laayoune, Western Sahara, November 3, 2018.
Fishermen in Laayoune, Western Sahara, November 3, 2018. FADEL SENNA / AFP

The European Parliament voted on 16 January, a text extending to the disputed area of ​​the Western Sahara preferential rates granted by a trade agreement in Morocco, without contradicting European jurisprudence. The vote on this text marks one "A new step in the strategic partnership" between the European Union (EU) and Morocco, welcomed Federica Mogherini, the head of European diplomacy, arrived on Wednesday evening for a visit to Rabat.

Read also In the Western Sahara, the economic offensive of Morocco

With 444 votes in favor (167 against), MEPs met in Strasbourg gave the green light "The extension of tariff preferences to the territory of Western Sahara after the European Commission and Morocco have agreed on a traceability mechanism to determine the origin of products exported from the territory"according to a statement by Parliament. This agreement, which covers agricultural and fishery products, has yet to be approved by the EU Council to enter into force.

A complicated exercise

The text adopted on Wednesday allowed for the amendment of the Association Agreement between the EU and Morocco to integrate Western Sahara, which was rejected by the Court of Justice of the EU in 2016, in "Adaptation to jurisprudence"M explainedme Mogherini. The exercise was complicated because the EU does not recognize the sovereignty of Morocco in this desert area that was disputed since the departure of the Spanish settlers in the mid-1970s.

Read also Western Sahara: at the Court of Justice of the EU, a symbolic victory for the Polisario front

the "Traceability mechanism" invoked by Parliament rather corresponds to "A mechanism for the exchange of statistics by region on agricultural and fishery products"Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita said during a press conference in Rabat. The share of the territory of Western Sahara in Moroccan exports has never been detailed.

"The Saharawi people have the right to develop in anticipation of a political solution"On Wednesday, the Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution in an annex with 442 votes in favor (172 against). According to them, the preferential rates that Western Sahara enjoyed between 2013 and 2016 "A positive impact" on economic development, an argument that the Moroccan side regularly brings forward.

Border management

The Polisario Front, which fights for the independence of Western Sahara, called on MEPs to vote against such an extension of the EU-Morocco agreement. He responded on Wednesday night "Unconditional rejection of this agreement that clearly violates European and international laws". she "Will undoubtedly encourage Morocco in its uncompromising stance towards the United Nations peace process", which resumed in Geneva after several years of status quo, criticized the Polisario in a statement.

Read also Western Sahara: Morocco and Polisario will meet again in early 2019

Rabat regards Western Sahara as an integral part of his territory and proposes autonomy under his sovereignty. An option rejected by the Polisario, which still demands a referendum of self-determination.

The EU-Morocco strategic partnership includes European assistance with regard to migration issues, with an initial envelope of € 50 million for the management of the Moroccan borders. Migration is a crucial issue for Europe. Spain, opposite the coast of Morocco, was again the first gateway to Europe, with 57,215 arrivals by sea, against 22,103 in 2017.

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