The European Court of Justice has annulled two trade agreements between the European Union and Morocco based on a lawsuit brought by the Polisario Front, which is demanding independence for Western Sahara.
The court based its decision on the fact that the two agreements were signed “without the consent of the people of Western Sahara”.
The representative of the Polisario in the European Union, Abi al-Bashir, welcomed the court’s decision. He said on his Twitter account that it represented a “great victory for the Sahrawi people”.
After the court’s decision, Morocco and the European Union issued a joint statement, affirming the continuation of their commercial partnership.
“We remain fully prepared to continue cooperation between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco in an atmosphere of calm and commitment,” said the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita.
The two agreements allow Morocco to export agricultural products and fish to the European Union from the Western Sahara region.
It concerns the purchase of 29 agricultural products from Western Sahara crops, in addition to fish caught from the region’s waters.
The two sides had signed a partnership agreement in 1996 granting Morocco preferential concessions that include Western Sahara products. He renewed the Agricultural Products Protocol in 2012, and the Fishing Protocol in 2019.
The main benefit of Rabat from this agreement is the lower costs of exporting its agricultural commodities to Europe.
The judges of the Court of Justice upheld the complaint submitted by the Polisario Front. The court statement said that the two agreements “violate the obligations of the European Union in the context of its relations with Morocco under European and international law.”
The two agreements will continue to operate for two months in order to “preserve the EU’s external relations and legal status in relation to its international obligations”.
The court gave Morocco a period of two months to appeal its decision, and said that it will not enter into force until after the appeal is considered.
Morocco, a major trading partner with the European Union, sees Western Sahara as an integral part of its territory, but the Polisario Front, internationally recognized as the representative of the Sahrawi people, has long sought independence for the territory.
Morocco controls about 80 percent of Western Sahara and has offered its consent to autonomy in the region under its sovereignty.
The Polisario Front objects to Morocco’s control of the territory, and has spent decades lobbying for the right to self-determination.
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