EU Court Says FTA with Morocco Illegal: Brussels Appeals the Ruling

Written by | Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

An EU representative said on Friday (4 March) that the European Union disagreed with the court ruling rendering the farm trade deal with Morocco illegal under international law. The EU has appealed the decision of a European court in mid-December last year to cancel the deal with the North African country in response to a lawsuit filed by the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi rebel movement, which aims to end Moroccan presence in the Western Sahara. Morocco that has controlled most of the territory of Western Sahara since 1975 claims sovereignty over one of the least scarcely populated regions in the world, which is, however, rich in phosphates and has oilfield potential.

The lawsuit that was initiated in 2012 involves processed agricultural products, trade in agricultural products and fisheries. The court ruled that the deal should not apply to the disputed territory of Western Sahara. As a result of the ruling and as a demonstration of protest, Morocco has suspended contact with European Union institutions. EU’s chief of diplomacy, Federica Mogherini made an unplanned visit to the Moroccan capital to calm down the tensions. “The (European) Council disagrees with the ruling of 10 December … that is why an appeal has been lodged at the European Court,” Mrs Mogherini reaffirmed the EU’s position on the matter emphasizing that “the EU remains convinced that their accords with Morocco do not violate international laws”.

Mrs Mogherini further assured that the mutual trade between the EU and Morocco would not be affected as a result of the ruling, which will remain the case while the ruling is being appealed. The total mutual trade between the two parties was approximately €29.25 billion in 2014, dominating three main areas – machinery and transport equipment, textiles and clothing and agricultural products. The EU is Morocco’s most important trading partner.

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