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Western Sahara

On 6 September, the European court of justice (ECJ) heard oral arguments on EU imports from Morocco of goods originating from, or processed in, Western Sahara.

Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and exports stolen Sahrawi resources including vegetables, fish, solar energy and phosphate. It has also licensed oil exploration.

The ECJ case was brought by the UK Western Sahara Campaign (WSC), which brought a case that the British government was unlawfully allowing such goods to be imported into the UK under an EU trade agreement with Morocco.

In a high court judgment handed down in October 2015, judge Nicholas Blake said: ‘I conclude that there is an arguable case of a manifest error by the [European Union] commission in understanding and applying international law relevant to these agreements.’ He ordered the referral to the ECJ.

The ECJ ruled last December that no EU trade agreement with Morocco could be applied to Western Sahara, and the people of the territory must consent to any arrangement affecting them.

Sahrawi organisations from occupied Western Sahara and from refugee camps in Algeria wrote to EU ministers and officials on 31 August asking the EU to respect the ruling.

Topics: Western Sahara