Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion of the agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco on the amendment of Protocols 1 and 4 to the EuroMediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Kingdom of Morocco, of the other part
1. This proposal concerns amendments to Protocol 1 and Protocol 4 of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement, which are intended to provide a legal basis for granting trade preferences to products from Western Sahara following the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) judgement of 21 December 2016 that the Agreement in its current form did not include Western Sahara. The amendments focus on clarifying the geographical scope of the Association Agreement, and do not amend the tariffs themselves in anyway. Therefore, this falls to FCO competence.
2. In 1996, the Euro Mediterranean Agreement, establishing an association between the European Communities and the Kingdom of Morocco, was signed (the Association Agreement). This entered into force in 2000. Pursuant to that, an Agreement between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural and fish products was signed in 2010 and came into force in 2012, introducing Protocols to the Association Agreement.
3. On 21 December 2016, the ECJ found that the Association Agreement and, by consequence, the Liberalisation Agreement, did not apply to the territory of Western Sahara. The Agreement had previously been applied de facto to Western Sahara. The UK was content with the previous approach.
4. Following the ECJ’s judgement, the practice of applying trade preferences set out in the Association Agreement and its protocols on a de facto basis to products emanating from Western Sahara could not continue indefinitely. Protocol 1 (access to the EU market for Moroccan agricultural/processed agricultural products and fish/fishery products) and Protocol 4 (concerning rules of origin) had to be amended to establish that products originating in Western Sahara could benefit from EU trade preferences.