Western Sahara resources: WSRW welcomes EU decision on respect for international law

London, February 04, 2017 (SPS) – Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) welcomed the European Union's decision to respect "the separate and distinct status" of the territory of Western Sahara, when considering its energy imports from Morocco.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) underlined in a statement the "shift in the EU Commission's position vis-a-vis Western Sahara, where before, the Commission would consistently state that Western Sahara is de facto administered by Morocco."

In his response to EU deputies on how does the EU Commission plan to ensure that its renewable energy trading with Morocco complies with the EU obligation to uphold international law and United Nations principles, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete said that the EU would henceforth "take into account the separate and distinct status of the territory of Western Sahara under international law."

Canete's written reply includes a reference to the 21 December 2016 ruling by the EU Court of Justice, concluding that the EU-Morocco Association and Liberalization Agreements cannot be applied to Western Sahara, as it is not part of Morocco, said the NGO.

WSRW underlined that this "first on-record recognition" of the "separate and distinct status" of the territory of Western Sahara, comes from Miguel Arias Canete, who in his previous position as Spain's Minister for Fisheries campaigned tirelessly for the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which is applied in the waters of Western Sahara.

However, the NGO expressed concerns over the implementation of the decision for future Morocco's energy projects in the Sahrawi occupied territories.

In this regard, WSRW said "it is not clear from the Commissioner's statement how energy developed in occupied Western Sahara could be avoided in practice, if Morocco would connect the territory's energy plants to its own national grid."

"By 2020, more than a quarter of Morocco's entire green energy production will be located in Western Sahara," said the NGO, adding that this would "further complicate an already arduous peace process." SPS