Morocco: eu court overturns decisions in western sahara dispute

Morocco: eu court overturns decisions in western sahara dispute

EU must amend agreement with morocco after european union court rules that "consent of the people of western sahara" is lacking.

As the court announced on wednesday, decisions in the areas of agriculture and fisheries of the EU council of ministers with morocco are void. Western sahara was a spanish colony until 1975 and was annexed by morocco after the withdrawal of the spanish, but this is not recognized by most states.

The polisario independence movement, which controls part of the territory, filed a lawsuit against the decisions in 2019. The group supported by algeria has long been seeking a moroccan withdrawal from western sahara.

The decisions of the EU and morocco concerned the amendment of an agreement on the import of agricultural products from morocco into the european union and the amendment of a fisheries agreement. According to the court, it had been planned to include the waters bordering western sahara in the scope of the agreement.

The court stated that the polisario had the right to sue under international law, since the "role and representativeness of the plaintiff are such as to confer on it the right to sue before the courts of the union". The western sahara resource watch organization described the verdict as a "significant victory for the people of western sahara".

However, certain parts of the decisions could be upheld for a certain period of time in order to maintain legal certainty with respect to international obligations. The ruling could further strain the EU’s relations with morocco. Morocco recently opened its border with the spanish north african exclave of ceuta to migrants from africa, triggering a mass exodus.

The society for threatened people (gfbv) buried the judgment of the EU court. "Western sahara is not just a part of morocco that the government in rabat can freely dispose of," confirms gfbv advisor nadja grossenbacher. "By importing products from western sahara under the moroccan flag, the EU is complicit in the continued violation of international law."The only way forward now was to realize the referendum on their territory that the sahrawis had been seeking for decades.

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