Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe, has stated that his concern that the Irish Government is not holding the European Commission to account over its attempt to re-negotiate and rebrand an adaptation of the protocols of the Association Agreement between the EU and Morocco, that was annulled by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Crowe raised the issue in the Dáil with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Parliamentary Questions today.

Deputy Crowe said:

“In a landmark judgement on 21 December 2016, in Polisario vs Council, the ECJ annulled the EU-Morocco Agreement because it illegally applied to Western Sahara.

“Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco and no State officially recognises Morocco’s claimed sovereignty over Western Sahara. The ECJ ruling made clear that the European Commission can’t make Agreements with Morocco that relate to Western Sahara without getting the consent of the people of Western Sahara.

“It now seems that the European Commission is trying to re-negotiate the Agreement that was annulled by the ECJ exclusively with Morocco. This ignores the mandate of the exclusive, legitimate, and UN-recognised representative of the people of Western Sahara, the Polisario Front.

“It seems to many that they are also trying to confuse the “people” of Western Sahara with the “population” of Western Sahara. This might then include Moroccan settlers at the expense of the Western Saharans living in the country and those that have been forced into exile because of the occupation.

“I raised this issue with the Minister today and questioned what safeguards the Irish Government is demanding from the European Commission to ensure that the negotiations are in full conformity ECJ ruling. I also called on the Irish Government to block any attempts by the European Commission to negotiate exclusively with Morocco.

“The Minister’s less than clear reply to these concerns was very disappointing, especially in view of Ireland’s historically positive positions on Western Sahara. The Minister seems to have no concerns regarding how the European Commission is proceeding despite the fact that the Commission is now trying  to take the Member States down the same road, which would undoubtedly be again challenged by the Polisario Front and presumably annulled at the ECJ.

“The Irish Government must ensure that the landmark ruling by the ECJ on Western Sahara is respected and it must oppose any attempts to undermine the fundamental rights of the Sahrawi people.”