Esta es la versiĆ³n HTML de un fichero adjunto a una solicitud de acceso a la informaciĆ³n 'negotiations with Morocco'.


Ref. Ares(2019)2261911 - 29/03/2019
DRAFT AGREEMENT TO EXTEND TRADE PREFERENCES TO PRODUCTS FROM 
WESTERN SAHARA 
MAIN ELEMENTS OF THE COMMISSION PROPOSAL 
 
 
The draft Agreement proposes to create the legal basis for granting preferential tariffs to 
products from Western Sahara that are comparable to those granted to Moroccan products 
under the EU-Morocco Association Agreement. It also aims to contribute to the economic 
development of Western Sahara by ensuring that exports to the EU originating there will 
benefit from wide-ranging trade preferences. By contributing to the socio-economic 
development of Western Sahara such a measure will also foster the overall stability of the 
Maghreb region. 
 
 
1. 
Respect of European and international law 
 
The draft agreement is fully consistent with the requirements set by the EU Court of Justice 
in its 21 December 2016 ruling (case C-104/16 P). It is based on a consultation process 
involving a wide spectrum of Western Saharan local representatives, stake-holders, civil 
society and other organisations, which showed a broad support for the draft agreement. 
Moreover, this consultation process had been preceded by a thorough analysis of the socio-
economic benefits arising from the proposed tariff preferences for the Western Saharan 
population and economy. The EEAS also met with Polisario Front, who expressed their 
rejection to the proposal, considering that the EU should negotiate with them and not with 
Morocco. 
 
2. 
The status of Western Sahara and the UN process 
 
The draft agreement is without prejudice to the EU's position on Western Sahara, and does 
not constitute any implicit recognition by the EU of the sovereignty of Morocco over the 
Western Sahara territory. 
 
It is supportive of the UN process aimed at reaching a definitive political solution with 
respect to Western Sahara. In the perspective of the possible resumption of UN-led talks on 
Western Sahara, the EU supports the renewed efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General 
to find a political solution to this protracted dispute. HRVP Mogherini met with the UNSG 
Personal Envoy for Western Sahara on two occasions this year to support his endeavours. 
 
3. 
Benefits for the local population 
 
 The analysis conducted shows that the draft agreement should benefit the population and 
economy of Western Sahara
: goods produced in Western Sahara will benefit from the same 
tariff preferences as those granted to products from Morocco. All industrial and most 
agricultural goods will be imported duty free, within the quantities foreseen in the Association 
Agreement for certain agricultural products. In the absence of such preferences, imports from 
Western Sahara would be disadvantaged as compared to exports from countries in the region 
which benefit from preferential treatment under free trade agreements or the Generalised 
System of Preferences; this would also affect the socio-economic development and 
compromise the business climate and future investments in Western Sahara. 
 

 

The report attached to the proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of the 
Agreement is based on an analysis of existing data and on a projection for the future. In 
general, there is evidence that the granting of tariff preferences to products from Western 
Sahara should have a substantial positive impact on the socio-economic development of that 
territory. Conversely, denying such tariff preferences would soon lead to economic 
uncertainty. The consultations held with Western Saharan organisations showed, on balance, a 
strong grass-root interest in benefitting from such preferential treatment. 
 
4. 
Consultation of the people concerned by the draft agreement 
 
The widest possible spectrum of Western Saharan representative socio-economic stake-
holders and political forces were consulted, among which the Polisario Front. On balance, the 
consultation showed a broad support for the draft agreement and the socio-economic 
benefits arising from the proposed tariff preference. 
Most often, the reasons invoked by 
those objecting to the draft agreement were not directly related to the draft agreement itself 
and its socio-economic impact but reflected their own views about the future political status 
of Western Sahara, which remains for the UN-led process to decide. Those groups who 
rejected the extension of the tariff preferences to Western Sahara were not in a position to 
identify adverse development effects on Western Sahara. For the EU there is no contradiction 
between supporting socio-economic development in Western Sahara and the free 
determination of its future status through the UN-led process, and the EU also endeavours to 
increase its political support and commitment to further the UN peace process for Western 
Sahara. 
 
On 5 February 2018, a meeting took place between the European External Action Service and 
the Front Polisario, following previous contacts at technical level that have taken place over 
recent years. A number of topics were discussed. Besides the humanitarian aid provided by 
the EU to the refugees in the Tindouf camps (Algeria) and the EU support to the UN led 
peace process in Western Sahara, the follow up given by the EU to the December 2016 ruling 
of the Court of Justice on the EU-Morocco Association Agreement was the main topic of 
discussion. Although no specific disadvantages have been invoked, the Polisario Front 
opposed the draft agreement for general political reasons. 
 
5. 
No change in market conditions 
 
The draft agreement will not alter the market conditions prevailing before the judgement of 
21/12/2016
, as no new preference will be created as compared with that situation. Currently 
products from Western Sahara are subject to custom duties. The draft agreement would create 
a level playing field for Western Sahara products with products from all countries in the 
region, which benefit from duty elimination or other duty reductions (under free trade 
agreements or under the Generalised System of Preferences). 
 
6. EU-Morocco 
partnership 
 
The draft agreement is also important for the EU-Morocco partnership in its current form 
and for its future development
. Morocco is a key partner in the EU's Southern 
Neighbourhood with which the EU has developed a lasting and valuable partnership over 
many years, and involving a wide variety of subjects of common interest in the economic, 
political and social and migration areas. This draft agreement will play a major role in 
relaunching the relationship with Morocco. 

 

 
7. 

Other elements and timing 
 
The draft agreement will be concluded with the Kingdom of Morocco as this is the only 
practicable way to grant preferential treatment to products from Western Sahara. In the 
current circumstances, there are no other institutions or bodies in Western Sahara that could 
ensure the implementation of the provisions necessary to grant preferential treatment, such as 
control and verification of the origin of products and cooperation between customs 
authorities. 
 
The draft agreement includes a commitment from both Parties to exchange information in the 
framework of the Association Committee at least once a year. This will enable to assess 
regularly, and as needed to improve, the impact of the draft agreement for the Western 
Saharan population. 
 
A favourable outcome about the proposed agreement is needed to deal with the situation 
created by the termination of trade preferences for imports from Western Sahara arising from 
the Court's ruling, and to help the economic development of its population. Despite the 
urgency to address the issue, the Commission has not proposed that the draft agreement 
should apply provisionally upon its signature, but only after the consent of the European 
Parliament, in the expectation that the draft agreement will be examined and adopted speedily.