Answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission
The process of negotiations and adoption of the EU‑Morocco agreement for the liberalisation of trade in agriculture and fisheries took around five years. The data used by the Commission for the agricultural activity in Western Sahara was provided by the Moroccan agricultural administration during this period.
In the various documents and presentation (based on information from the Moroccan authorities) provided to the European Parliament, the Commission has reported its understanding of the existence of about 500 hectares, of which around 350 hectares are already exploited, compared to the 588 hectares reported by the Western Sahara Resource Watch. The latest figure reported by the Morocco Ministry of Agriculture is 520 hectares(1).
The relationship between the European Union and Morocco is based on mutual trust. In the past we have had no reasons to question the information given to us regarding the agricultural land in Western Sahara.
Given the limited divergence of the data provided by the authorities and NGOs on this issue, an internal inquiry is not deemed necessary. But we will take the issue up with the Moroccan authorities to check that the information we have is both accurate and up to date.