Intergroup for Western Sahara in the European Parliament welcomes the ruling: "The consent of the Sahrawi people must be respected and the rule of law respected by EU institutions”

On 29 September 2021, the General Court of the European Union (GCEU) annulled the EU-Morocco trade and fisheries agreements that applied to Western Sahara. "For decades, the concerns of the people of Western Sahara have been ignored and their rights have been violated by the Moroccan occupying power. The EU General Court has made it unmistakably clear that it is high time to talk to and decide with the Sahrawi people and not behind their back. Sahrawi consent must be respected.”, Andreas Schieder, SPÖ MEP and Chair of the Intergroup for Western Sahara, a cross-party working group in the European Parliament, summed up. The GCEU invalidated the agreements with Morocco because the EU had failed to secure the consent of the people of Western Sahara, as requested under EU and international law. The Court dismissed the “consultations” of “populations concerned” carried out by the European Commission, which could not substitute this fundamental requirement of consent. Through these agreements, the EU has thus been complicit in the unlawful exploitation of natural resources and the entrenchment of the illegal occupation in Western Sahara, and has undermined UN efforts to reach a lasting solution to the long-standing conflict. The Intergroup believes it is now imperative for the EU and its member states to uphold the rule of law, to conform with the decision of the General Court and to ensure that all its dealings with Western Sahara meet the Court’s requirements. In this regard, the EU has no choice but to engage with the Frente Polisario as the legitimate and sole representative of the Sahrawi people. Finally, the Intergroup calls on the EU to step up its support to the Sahrawi refugees in Algeria and to the human rights defenders and civil society in the occupied territories.(sps)