BRUSSELS – Saharawis reaffirmed their firm rejection of the proposal to extend tariff preferences to products originating in occupied Western Sahara in the framework of the EU-Morocco association agreement, and expressed their "deep concern" regarding the discussions initiated in this direction within the European Commission
In a letter recently sent to the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, the French Socialist Pierre Moscovici, representatives of Sahrawi civil society in the territories occupied by Morocco, in the Tindouf refugee camps and the Saharawi diaspora reaffirmed " their categorical refusal to extend tariff preferences to products originating in occupied Western Sahara "within the framework of the EU / Morocco Association Agreement.
They also reject the "discussions conducted in this context by the European External Action Service and the European Commission for Economic Affairs".
The Saharawis also expressed in their message their "deep concern" about these discussions during a gathering of Saharawi NGOs held in recent days before the Commission and the European Council in Brussels, and their "firm opposition" to everything agreement with Morocco including occupied Western Sahara
But the European Commission is "deaf ear" to the legitimate claims of the Saharawi people "in violation of the code of good administrative behavior" of the European Commission, denounce the Saharawi in the missive, sent in the perspective of the vote scheduled on 19 January at the European Parliament level on the draft EU-Morocco agreement to extend tariff preferences to products originating in occupied Western Sahara.
Denunciation of the "misleading" statements of the European Commission
On June 11, 2018, when the European Commission published its so-called "report on the benefits for the people of Western Sahara", "we discovered that, despite our refusal to participate in the discussions, the Commission quoted our organizations as stakeholders consulted on the amendment of Protocols 1 and 4 of the Association Agreement ", regret the signatories of the letter.
However, in the content of the report, the Commission "totally failed to express our rejection of the extension of the Association Agreement to occupied Western Sahara", they still lament.
Worse still, in its report, the Commission expressed "a majority opinion in favor of amending the Association Agreement to extend tariff preferences to Western Saharan products blatantly ignoring our rejection constant of this agreement ", add the Saharawis.
Thus, the Commission "misrepresented our organizations as stakeholders in the consultations and its proposals, when in fact the statistics show that 83% of the groups which, according to the Commission, took part in the consultations on trade in Western Sahara, have never been invited or participated in any discussion "on this subject, according to the letter.
The Saharawis regret that the Council approved the "misleading" statements by the European Commission's services stating that "wide-ranging consultations were conducted and the majority of the social, economic and political actors who participated in consultations, expressed support for an extension of tariff preferences in the Association Agreement with Western Sahara ".
"For us, Saharawi, it is not acceptable to see the names of our organizations associated, against our will, with an illegal consultation process intended only to drag the Member States and members of the European Parliament to new violations of the right to self-determination of our people and to legitimize in the eyes of the general public the illegal occupation by Morocco. "
The authors of the letter recall that the institutions of the European Union "must imperatively apply in good faith the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
In December 2016, the CJEU had ruled that "no EU-Morocco trade or association agreement could be applied to Western Sahara" and that "Morocco has no sovereignty or international mandate to administer the territory of Western Sahara ".
The Saharawis finally remind the European Commission that the Polisario Front, as the only representative of the Saharawi people recognized by the United Nations, "is the only body entitled to express its consent to be bound by an international agreement with the European Union "