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Parliamentary question - E-002451/2012Parliamentary question

Agricultural activity in Western Sahara

Question for written answer E-002451/2012
to the Commission
Rule 117
Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE) , Jill Evans (Verts/ALE) , Frieda Brepoels (Verts/ALE) and Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (Verts/ALE)

In the context of the debate on the EU‑Morocco agreement for the liberalisation of trade in agriculture and fisheries, the Commissioner for enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle, has produced a ‘fact sheet’, which has been distributed to MEPs. This document states: ‘So far there is practically no agricultural activity in Western Sahara (only 300 hectares close to Dakhla) and there is no exploitation of resource in agriculture’. The purpose of this statement was to downplay the argument that the agreement would affect Western Sahara.

However, at the same time the organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has released a report under the title ‘Conflict Tomatoes’, which reveals the existence of 11 agricultural sites in occupied Western Sahara and provides a GPS location for all of them[1].

According to this research, all these are ‘either owned by the Moroccan king, powerful Moroccan conglomerates or by French multinational firms’, while ‘no firms are owned by the local Sahrawi and not even by small-scale Moroccan settlers in the territory’. Furthermore, the same report states that 646 hectares have been equipped for agricultural activity, out of which 588 hectares are already being exploited. Last but not least, the Moroccan government aims to increase agricultural activity in Dakhla in the years to come. The Regional Agricultural Plan provides for the expansion of the total area devoted to early-season crops, from 588 hectares in 2008 to 2 000 by 2020. This plan also provides for an increase of greenhouse production from 36 000 tonnes in 2008 to 80 000 in 2013 and 160 000 in 2020. That increased production will be destined exclusively for export. The number of people working in agriculture in the region is expected to triple by 2020.

Can the Commission specify the source of the data provided by it concerning agriculture sites in Western Sahara? Has it launched an internal inquiry to find out whether those data were correct or wrong?

OJ C 111 E, 18/04/2013