The European Commission has confirmed that the aviation agreement with the kingdom of Morocco does apply for the disputed territory of Western – Sahara. In an answer to a parliamentary request the commission told MPs on Friday that the decision to include Western-Sahara in the aviation agreement would not be a judgement over the peace process, which is conducted by the United Nations in the region.
The Euro-Mediterran Aviation Agreement is practically in use since 2006 and has never experienced any practical difficulties, the commission argues. After a long lasting ratification process in the member states and by the parliament, it was officially put in place on March 18th this year. The treaty makes it easier for airlines of EU member states and Morocco respectively to offer direct flights and market tickets to consumers and businesses. Although the impact of commercial aviation in Western Sahara is marginal, neither the EU nor Morocco wanted to exclude the disputed territory from the legislation.
After Spain decolonised Western Sahara in the late 1970s, a civil war broke out between the Maroccan administration and the movement “Polisario”. Either one claims sovereignty over the former colony. While Morocco controls most of the coastline, the desert territories in the center and east of the country are held by the “Polisario” movement. A lengthy peace process and a UN peace keeping mission were yet unable to solve the issue to mutual satisfaction.