Iceland,April 19th, 2016:
Iceland agrees with CJEU, excludes Western Sahara from trade deal.
All four members states of the EFTA free trade association – Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein – conclude in the same way as the Court of Justice of the European Union. Goods from Western Sahara cannot be included in free trade agreements with Morocco.
The 10th of December 2015, was marked by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) quashing a free trade agreement between the European Union and Morocco, to the extent that it was to apply to the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
The claim was brought by Frente Polisario (the internationally recognized interlocutor of the Saharawi people) against Council Decision 2012/497/UE of 8 March 2012. The original Council decision concerned an agreement between the EU and Morocco over reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products.
This is not the first time that we hear such good news from Iceland as in 2014, Foreign Affairs Minister of Iceland Gunnar Svensson Brasze called on the international community to take an interest in the issue of Western Sahara in order not to be forgotten.
“We must care not to forget the other conflicts that can erupt at any moment and here I cite the issue of Western Sahara,” said the Icelandic official following his speech before the 70th ordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly.
This position reflects the interest given by Iceland to the issue of Western Sahara since the adoption by the Icelandic Parliament in 2013 of a resolution calling to “work actively in the international forums for the self-determination in Western Sahara.
In 2015, Icelandic lawyer, Gisli Björnsson, has worked for the government of Morocco at the United Nations in their struggle to secure control over the territory of Western Sahara located south of Morocco in North Africa. This is stated in a letter to the embassy of Morocco in Oslo sent to the Foreign Ministry of the country in the capital Rabat in September last year.
Gisli Björnsson argued the case Morocco during a meeting at the United Nations last year. Letter from the Moroccan ambassador in Oslo leaked on the internet. Decades-long dispute over control right over the old colonial Spanish North Africa.
Iceland has a market economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries.It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. Iceland ranks highly in economic, political and social stability and equality. In 2013, it was ranked as the 13th most-developed country in the world by the United Nations’ Human Development Index.