Smith Hails EU Glimmer Of Hope For Western Sahara People

15 September 2011

SNP Member of the European Parliament for Scotland Alyn Smith has hailed a move by MEPs in Strasbourg to force a full legal ruling of the European Court of Justice on the validity of the EU's dealings with Morocco over the occupied territory of Western Sahara.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Alyn said: 

"It has been a huge frustration for me for years that we MEPs have been legally unable to do much to actually help the people of Western Sahara, where the EU has maintained breathtaking double standards.  The Lisbon Treaty gave us some new powers and I am proud that 77 of us have had the gumption to use them to trigger a formal vote on the floor of the house.

"It is simply outrageous that the European Commission is seeking to renew the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement, continuing the right of the EU's, but largely in practice Spanish, fishing fleet to plunder Western Saharan waters despite the fact the government of Morocco has no right to trade in the resources of Western Sahara under international law.

"This is EU foreign policy gone wrong and its compatibility with international law is genuinely questionable, yet nobody has ever dared ask the question.

"Forcing a recorded vote on the referral of the issue to the ECJ will shine a bright light on other MEPs who have been too quick to talk about human rights and international law but too quick to forget about it in the past.  Seeking an opinion from the ECJ on the legality of this agreement will for the first time give us legal certainty from the highest EU authority.   I have faith in the wisdom of our judges and hope my colleagues will back our call."