Frente POLISARIO “strongly” condemns proposal of European Commission for mandate to negotiate revision of 2000 EU-Morocco Association Agreement

Bir Lehlou, 29 May 2017 (SPS) – The Frente POLISARIO has “strongly” condemned the proposal of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union is expected to decide on, for a mandate to negotiate a revision of the 2000 EU-Morocco Association Agreement, which would include Moroccan products originating illegally in Western Sahara under the trade preferences of that Agreement.

The Frente POLISARIO affirmed in a statement on Sunday “As the UN-recognised representative of the people of Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO strongly condemns this new proposal of the European Commission, which, if endorsed by the Council of the European Union, would violate both the ruling of the EU Court and fundamental tenets of international law.”

“The Frente POLISARIO therefore calls on the European Union and European Governments to reject the European Commission’s proposal to renegotiate the EU-Morocco Association Agreement under the current terms for the serious legal and political consequences that it would have on the question of Western Sahara.”

“In the meantime, the Frente POLISARIO remains determined to pursue all legal venues, under EU and international law, to defend the supreme interests of the people of Western Sahara and their inalienable right to self-determination in all its aspects including their permanent sovereignty over their natural resources and the territorial integrity of Western Sahara.”

“Given the ‘separate and distinct status’ of Western Sahara under international law, Morocco therefore cannot conclude international agreements applicable to the Sahrawi territory, which it occupies illegally. For the same reason, Morocco cannot express the consent of the Sahrawi people, a foreign people to Morocco and a third party to the EU-Morocco relations, to an international agreement applicable to Western Sahara, which is located outside of Morocco’s international recognised borders.”

“By proposing to modify the rules of origin in order to treat products originating illegally in Western Sahara as Moroccan under the Association Agreement, the European Commission aims at legalising the plunder and the illegal commercialisation of the Sahrawi natural resources in violation of the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. In doing so, the European Commission is not only failing its obligations to implement in good faith the ruling of the EU Court but it is also encouraging the Council of the European Union to endorse a proposal that contradicts the long-standing policy of the European Union on Western Sahara.”

“The proposal of the Commission, by encouraging Morocco to pursue its illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara, will also undermine the United Nations’ efforts to re-launch direct negotiations between Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO “with a new dynamic and a new spirit” as called for recently by the UN Security Council.”

“In this respect, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark judgement on 21 December 2016 in which it recalled that Morocco had never gained sovereignty over Western Sahara. The Court consequently ruled that, according to the principle of self-determination, the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco cannot include, either de jure or de facto, Western Sahara in their trade relations without the prior consent of the Sahrawi people,” added the statement. (SPS)

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