The Official Journal of the EU includes a decision on products originating from the Sahara

Having the EU-Morocco association agreement cover products originating from Western Sahara is a new challenge to Morocco. The decision was announced Tuesday through the Official Journal of the European Union.

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The Official Journal of the European Union, published March 31, has officially included a decision taken on February 20 on products originating from Western Sahara. Said decision is related to the «conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco on the amendment of Protocols 1 and 4 to the Association Agreement with a view to extending the tariff preferences laid down in the Association Agreement to products originating in Western Sahara».

The document indeed reveals many details on the commitments made by the Kingdom to ensure the integration of the products of the Sahara in the «amending agreement».

Thus the association committee, is «to adopt, at the latest two months after the entry into force of the amending Agreement, a decision on the arrangements for evaluating the impact of the amending Agreement, in particular on sustainable development and with regard to the advantages for the people concerned and the exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara», the decision reads.

Morocco had refused in 2011 to comply with the same requirements

In order to monitor the effects of the amending agreement on the populations of the southern provinces, Morocco and the EU «have agreed to exchange information at least once a year by means of the Association Committee. The specific arrangements for the evaluation exercise should therefore be laid down with a view to their adoption by the Association Committee».

The decision specifies that the objective of the operation «coincides with that of the joint report of 11 June 2018 by the Commission and the European External Action Service on the benefits for the people of Western Sahara and the public consultation on extending tariff preferences to products from Western Sahara».

Rabat «has also agreed to set up separately a mechanism for collecting statistics on exports to the Union of products originating in Western Sahara, which are to be made available on a monthly basis to the Commission and to custom authorities in the Member States».

The latter would constitute an important concession of the Moroccan authorities. In 2011, Rabat refused to comply with European requirements to present documents attesting that the people of the Sahara benefit from the fishing agreement. A rejection that had led, among other things, a majority of MEPs to vote on December 14, 2011, against the extension of an additional year of the agreement.

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