Attn. H/E President Jean-Claude Juncker
S T A T E M E N T
The Central and Eastern European Alliance for Solidarity with the Saharawi People (CEE Alliance) expresses serious concerns over the ongoing efforts by the European Commission to circumvent the 21 December 2016 ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which undermine the legal rights of the Saharawi people, and continue the illegal exploitation of the resources of Western Sahara.
From the very inception of the negotiations with Morocco, the Commission’s approach to the decision of the EU Court has fallen short of basic EU standards of accountable and transparent trade negotiations. A principle source of concern has been that the Commission appears to have deliberately misinterpreted the Court’s conclusions that such agreements needed to obtain the ‘consent of the representatives of Western Sahara’ and instead sought to merely ‘consult the populations of Western Sahara’. By replacing one with the other, it was thus possible for the EU institutions to sideline the Saharawi people, both by talking to the wrong people, and by not taking into account their fierce objection to the deal.
As underlined by the Advocate-General of the ECJ on 10 January 2018, the territory of Western Sahara remains under the partial occupation of Morocco. The ECJ, in December 2016, definitively ruled that Morocco has no sovereignty over Western Sahara – reaffirming the position of the International Court of Justice, the United Nations and the African Union, that Western Sahara is a Non-Self-Governing Territory with continuing and exclusive ownership of the natural resources of the Territory. In parallel, the ECJ ruling reaffirmed that any agreement pertaining to Western Sahara’s natural resources requires the consent of Frente POLISARIO as the only legitimate representative of the Saharawi people.
Therefore the CEE Alliance reiterates its deep concern at the ongoing negotiations between Morocco and the European Commission to include Western Sahara in trade agreements with Morocco without the consent of the Saharawi people. To this date, no serious scrutiny of this process has been allowed, the mandate for these negotiations has not been published, and the Commission has not made any genuine attempts to engage with Frente POLISARIO.
The CEE Alliance calls on the European Commission to immediately reverse the inclusion of the territory of Western Sahara from the talks with Morocco, and further to:
1. Engage constructively with the Frente POLISARIO at the appropriate level of standing as the only legitimate representative of the Saharawi people, and party to the UN peace talks;
2. Comply with the CJEU Ruling by immediately clarifying the legal and territorial scope of ongoing trade amendment negotiations with Morocco;
3. Make public the process by which the consent of the Saharawi people has been or will be sought as required under EU law, including publishing the list of all parties who will be consulted, the terms of consultation, and the mechanism for fair participation;
4. Undertake an unhindered and comprehensive fact-finding mission to the territory of Western Sahara to assess the humanitarian, human rights, and economic situation on the ground;
5. Conduct an urgent audit of EU Member States’ compliance with the CJEU ruling of 21st December 2016
Budapest, 12th February 2018.
on behalf of CEE Alliance