Polisario Front welcomes French Council of State's decision on agricultural imports from Western Sahara

Brussels (Belgium) 22 September 2022 (SPS)- Polisario Front, the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people, welcomed, on Tuesday, the decision of the French Council of State on agricultural imports from the territory of occupied Western Sahara.

“The Polisario Front has taken note of the decision of the Council of State of the French Republic of June 9, 2022 issued at the initiative of the Confédération paysanne regarding agricultural imports from the territory of Western Sahara and welcomes this very good decision,” it said in a statement, thanking the Confédération paysanne which has referred this issue to the French Council of State.

“The Polisario Front warmly welcomes the action of the Confédération paysanne, a noble trade union which acts on the basis of solidarity between farmers, and which therefore cannot accept that fruits and vegetables from occupied territories, in violation of the rights of the Saharawi people, arrive on European territory as if they were from Morocco,” the statement added.

The Confédération paysanne had asked the French government to issue a decree banning the import of cherry tomatoes and melons harvested in occupied Saharawi territory, on the grounds that Western Sahara does not belong to the Kingdom of Morocco, as ruled by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in 2016 and 2018, stressing that “presenting these products as originating from Morocco violates EU law and the rulings of the Court.

“The Council of State rejected the arguments of the French authorities and ruled, as requested by the Confédération paysanne, that this case be submitted to the CJEU to determine whether, according to European law, the Moroccan authorities are competent to issue the certificates of conformity allowing these agricultural products to access the European market,” the Polisario Front said.

According to the Saharawi authorities, “products from Western Sahara but with labels that fraudulently state ‘Origin: Morocco’ are unloaded en masse in Perpignan, and then distributed throughout the European territory, and it is therefore a responsibility of the French government”.

For the Polisario Front’s representative in Europe and to the EU, Oubi Bouchraya Bachir, “the question posed is excellent, as it gives effective application to the 2016 CJEU ruling that Western Sahara and Morocco are two distinct and separate territories and that the European Union cannot accredit Morocco’s powers over the territory, given its lack of sovereignty.

“With this action by the Confédération paysanne, we are entering into the concrete, and it is fortunate that the Council of State, rejecting the arguments of the French government, has transmitted the case to the CJEU, which will be able to rule following the 2016 ruling, and this by a decision that will be binding on the 27 member states of the European Union,” he added.

As a reminder, the Council of the European Union attempted, after the 2016 ruling, to conclude two agreements – land and sea – with Morocco allowing an express extension to the territory of Western Sahara. By two judgments in September 2021, the European Union Tribunal annulled these agreements.

In December 2021, the European Commission and Council appealed, supported by several states including France. The CJEU will therefore have to rule in a general way on the legality of these agreements, and in a concrete way on these agricultural exports.

“We are cautious and very respectful of the independence of the judiciary. However, these current actions are based on the strongest principles of law, starting with the right to self-determination and the achievements of the 2016 ruling. So we will see how far we can advance before the CJEU, but we are confident that great progress is yet to come”, concluded Oubi Bouchraya. (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)