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EU appeals General Court’s ruling on agricultural trade deal with Morocco

The Council of Foreign Affairs decided on 14 December to appeal the judgement of the EU General Court of 10 December that ordered a 2012 deal on trade in agri-food and fisheries products between the EU and Morocco annulled.

Under the same decision, the ministers made an application to the European Court of Justice for interim measures in the form of suspension of the operation of the General Court’s judgement.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a press conference on 14 December in Brussels that the agreement would stay in effect until the ruling on the appeal is delivered. The EU’s “international commitments will be respected,” Mogherini said

Addressing the same press conference, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar called the ruling an internal EU problem and urged a quick solution to it.

“This is a dangerous precedent. It is not useful to a relationship which has been built up step by step with determination for more than 20 years,” he said.

In its ruling, the General Court said the EU hadn’t considered all aspects of the deal, including its impact on the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara and on the question of who controls the region’s natural resources.

Western Sahara, a disputed territory, has been under Morocco’s control since 1976.

The case was brought to the General Court by the Polisario Front, a movement in Western Sahara that has been campaigning for independence for decades with the backing of Algeria.

The 2012 deal, that expanded duty-free status to over 50% of Moroccan agricultural and fisheries products exported to the EU, was part of the EU’s efforts to encourage democratic reforms in Morocco following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.