Moroccan Sahara: EU forces Polisario into a corner

The European Union (EU) has sidelined the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, when it decided to include explicitly the Moroccan Sahara in its future Association and Agricultural Agreements with the Kingdom of Morocco.

Through this decision, the European Union seeks to close definitively the chapter of the Polisario’s territorial claims on the Moroccan Sahara and its assertions to be “the sole legitimate representative” of the Sahrawi populations, a status that even the European Court of Justice had denied the separatists in its judgments of 2016 and 2017.

Meeting on Monday, July 16, 2018 in Brussels, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU member countries adopted a decision adapting the Association Agreement and the Agricultural Agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco in order to include explicitly the Moroccan Sahara, informed sources close to the European Commission said.

According to the EU, this measure is in line with the ruling of the European Court of Justice of 21 December 2016 on the Agreement on the liberalization of agricultural and other products. This agreement aims at consecrating in the texts the extension of preferential tariffs to the Moroccan Sahara, said the same sources.

The decision taken Monday by the Council of Europe reinforces the legal basis for exporting products from the southern provinces to the EU with trade preferences and at the same time promotes the development of these regions, the EU argues.

The EU’s top diplomats have asked the European Parliament to endorse this decision as soon as possible, in order to allow the EU to continue reinvigorating its partnership with Morocco and to pave the way for the signing of a new fisheries agreement between the two partners in the coming months.

It’s worth recalling in this connection that early last June the European Commission had adopted an agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between Morocco and the EU providing for granting preferential tariffs to products from the Sahara in the same way as those granted to other Moroccan products covered by the Association Agreement.

These new decisions, which have more or less delayed the conclusion of the new Morocco-EU fisheries agreement currently under negotiation, will soon put an end to the Polisario’s agitation on the European stage.

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