BRUSSELS- "The European Parliament decides to seek the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the compatibility of the draft EU-Morocco agreement (amendment of the agricultural agreement) with the Treaties of the Union and the decision of the CJEU of 21 December 2016 ", reads a motion for a resolution initiated by a hundred MEPs affiliated to the various political groups of the European Parliament.
In the run-up to the European Parliament's January 16 vote on the draft EU-Morocco agreement to extend tariff preferences to products originating in occupied Western Sahara, some 100 MEPs from various political backgrounds , tabled on 9 January 2019 a motion for a resolution asking the President of the European Parliament "to take the necessary measures" to obtain an opinion from the Court of Justice of the European Union on the said draft agreement.
This draft resolution, which recalls that under Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union, the European Union and its Member States are required to respect the principles of the United Nations Charter, the respect of which the principle of self-determination of peoples, considers that "there is legal uncertainty as to the compatibility of the proposed agreement with the Treaties and in particular with the judgment of the CJEU of 21 December 2016" and notes, inter alia, that it is not possible to establish with certainty that the measures taken by the Commission meet the obligation of the Court regarding the consent of the people of Western Sahara ".
This motion for a resolution will be put to a vote in Strasbourg on 16 January, before the vote on the same day on the resolution of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (Schaake or former Lalonde Report) which gives its consent to the conclusion of the EU-Morocco agreement. If this proposal is adopted, it will automatically entail the suspension of the whole procedure at the level of the European Parliament, while the CJEU decides on the subject and gives its opinion.
It should be recalled that the Legal Service of the European Parliament also issued in its opinion of 13 September 2018 "doubts as to the conformity of the proposal to amend the EU-Morocco Association Agreement with the requirements of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 December 2016, in particular as regards the imperative of the consent of the Saharawi people, as required by the Court.
Moreover, the new rapporteur of the International Trade Commission (INTA) herself, Marietje Schaake, has just tabled an amendment on her own report, in which she "asks the Commission to explore the means by which trade preferences can be effectively granted in the future to the totality of the people living in Western Sahara. "
This amendment, considers a source close to the file "destroyed by itself this draft agreement, recognizing that it covers only the part of Western Sahara occupied by Morocco and therefore does not benefit all the people Saharawi, contrary to what the European Commission claims, which amounts to an explicit recognition of the wobbly character of a very badly committed agreement. "
Indeed, it should be noted that a number of MEPs affiliated to different political groups, including the Social Democrats Group (S & D), the second largest political force in the European hemicycle, have raised doubts and have ceased to advocate throughout the past year to seek the opinion of the CJEU, before endorsing the agreement at Parliament level.
The Socialists of the European Parliament are more than divided on the issue, in particular following the opinion of the European Parliament's Legal Service and the approach of next week's vote.
One of its most influential members, the Italian Pier Antonio Panzeri, President of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), and former President of the Maghreb Delegation (DMAG), comes from to co-sign an amendment tabled by the Greens / EFA Group, through which the approval of the European Parliament to the draft agreement with Morocco is conditioned in particular by the establishment of a reliable traceability mechanism allowing to clearly identify products originating from Western Sahara, in full compliance with EU customs and consumer protection legislation
In this context, Morocco has intensified in recent weeks its pressure and lobbying, especially in the European hemicycle, to ensure a favorable vote. It is in this context that the Secretary General of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) and former Minister Nabil Benabdellah was dispatched to Brussels earlier this week to meet officials of the Group of Socialists and Democrats, a few days before the amendment to the agricultural agreement was put to the vote.