European Commission wants to improve the traceability of products coming from the Sahara

European Commission representative Sabine Henzler revealed that the European Union institution and Morocco are negotiating the idea to improve the traceability of products coming from Western Sahara.

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The European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA) examined, on Monday November the 5th, a report of an MEPs delegation that visited the Sahara on the 3rd and 4th of September. The mission was in charge of evaluating the European Commission’s proposal, suggesting to make the EU-Morocco trade agreement cover Western Sahara.

As expected, the content of the document, published on September the 11th, was severely criticized by the Polisario supporters inside the European Union institution. They accused the report drafted by French politician Patricia Lalonde of being «bias» and «unilateral», says SPS.

The politician recognized «the present economic, social and environmental development observed in Dakhla and Lâayoune and the significant potential for further creation of both low- and high-skilled local employment opportunities».

«Local people and development»

Lalonde pointed out that «the EU tariff preferences have had a positive impact on the agricultural and fisheries products sectors and their export levels in the non-autonomous territory of Western Sahara».

The French politician is convinced that «notwithstanding the outcome of the peace process, the local population will profit from economic development and the spill-over effects created in terms of investment in infrastructure, health and education».

The MEP has taken «note of the tensions between different interests in the territory and believes that a respected and accepted end to the ongoing conflict is required to ensure the broader participation of all groups in the territory’s economic development; is, at the same time, convinced that the local population also has the right to develop while awaiting a political solution».

Improving the traceability of Sahara products

The report was marked by the presence of a member of the European Commission, Sabine Henzler. The MEP said she is interested in creating a mechanism to improve the traceability of products coming from Western Sahara.

The official told MEPs that the European Commission is currently discussing with Morocco the suggestion. However, she avoided giving further details on the Kingdom’s position, says Western Sahara Resource Watch.

Henzler rejected the Polisario’s role in the ongoing negotiations with Morocco on fisheries and association agreements. On the other hand, she asserted that the European Council is willing to implement «all the possible and feasible» ways to consult the people of the Sahara.

Meanwhile, the representative of the European External Action Service said that the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, Horst Köhler, has no position on the trade agreement between Morocco and the EU.

The Committee on International Trade in the European Parliament will vote on the report of Patricia Lalonde on 3 December 2018. The text will then be submitted to the plenary on 15 January 2019.

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