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European Union and Morocco to renegotiate over imports from Western Sahara

The European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that the European Union must re-examine trade agreements made with Morocco and now include Western Sahara. It is now unclear whether, for example, tomatoes from Morocco were grown in Western Sahara.

The ruling follows an appeal by the independence organization Polisario and is important for the labeling of fruits and vegetables. Morocco counts Western Sahara as part of its territory and labels products, including tomatoes, as Moroccan. This makes it unclear whether tomatoes from Morocco have been grown in the disputed area, which is a very sensitive issue, and it also means that the products can be sold more cheaply on the European market.

This is to the dissatisfaction of Spain, among others, which fiercely opposes import competition, bodies that fight for the rights of Western Sahara, including Polisario, and also in the Netherlands, the labeling issue around the disputed area led to questions in Parliament.

As a result of the ruling, the European Commission and Morocco will have to re-examine their trade agreements. The ruling does not mean that things will change immediately for tomato imports, among other things. The court wants time for this and wants to prevent unrest and lack of clarity, and also does not want the ruling to detract from the strength of such agreements in general.

Response of Moroccan enterprises
The CGEM (General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises) states:

"We have taken note of the judgments handed down today by the General Court of the European Union concerning the decisions of the Council of the European Union on the Association Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco on agricultural products and sustainable fishing.

The European Court's decision is to maintain the effect of the agricultural agreement between Morocco and the EU until the final judgment of the European Court of Last Instance. We remain mobilized to continue the cooperation between the European Union and Morocco. Our business communities have important links to promote and foster a sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery.

The stability of trade relations between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco, as major economic partners, is also a guarantee of a win-win partnership. We remain convinced that solidarity and sustainable trade between the EU and Morocco guarantee the security of the region and its people. We will continue to work to develop the multiple dimensions of this EU-Morocco strategic partnership, in terms of economic, social, and environmental growth.”

The Court's rulings can be found here. 

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