The EU Council has agreed to appeal the ruling that the General Court of the European Union (GCEU) made public on September 29, which annulled part of the agricultural agreement between the EU and Morocco, specifically the part that grants the preferences granted to Morocco to Western Sahara. Thus, everything will remain the same for the export of Maghreb fruit and vegetables until this dispute is resolved, which will take at least one year.
According to Fepex, the EU's Council decision to file an appeal with the Court of Justice of the EU, a higher instance than the General Court, was expected. When the GCEU ruling that involved the cancellation of part of the EU agreement with Morocco was made public on September 29, the European Commission, Spain, and Morocco stated they were in favor of maintaining the status quo with Morocco and preserving relations of a marked geopolitical nature.
Thus, everything will remain the same for Moroccan fruit and vegetable exports to the EU, including horticultural productions from Western Sahara. Fepex has reiterated on numerous occasions that these exports harm the community producer sector because both sectors offer the same products at the same time, but Western Sahara's producers do not have to comply with the same social and environmental conditions that EU producers must comply with. In addition, these productions are growing.
According to a 2018 report by the Commission and the European External Action Services, the area of fruit and vegetables in Western Sahara will grow from 900 hectares in 2018 to 5,000 hectares, which would mean production would increase by up to 500,000 tons, which are mostly exported to the EU.
These exports also harm the Spanish sector because the conditions of the Association Agreement between the EU and Morocco, which grants tariff advantages to Moroccan productions that are exported to the EU, are not met, especially regarding the entry price regime.
Community imports of Moroccan fresh fruits and vegetables have strongly increased in recent years, going from 856,914 tons in 2010 to 1.4 million tons in 2020, i.e. 63% more, according to Eurostat data, processed by Fepex. Meanwhile, their value has gone from 822,642 euro to €1.8 million, i.e. 118% more.