Jordi Cañas, MEP for Citizens and spokesperson for International Trade, addressed the European Commission via a written question and requested an investigation into the alleged fraud in the export of tomatoes from Western Sahara, which are labeled as if they were from Morocco, a practice that would violate European regulations and the Association Agreement between the EU and this country.
A report by the NGO Mundubat indicates that 7 to 14% of the tomatoes that Morocco exports to Europe come from the fields of Dakhla, located in the Western Sahara that is illegally occupied by Morocco. From there, they are transported to Agadir, in Moroccan territory, where they are mixed with tomatoes from the Sus region. They are finally packaged and labeled as a product of the Alawite kingdom.
"Selling these tomatoes camouflaged as Moroccan tomatoes violates numerous European laws and the EU-Morocco Association Agreement, which establish that products that arrive in Europe are required to have a label that indicates the origin of their production," Cañas denounced. Thus, the European consumer has no way of knowing the real origin of the tomato.
In addition, Jordi Cañas stated, this is unfair competition against European producers and it is bringing down tomato production in producing countries like Spain.
Thus, he requested the European Commission carry out an investigation on the alleged fraudulent practice denounced in this report and that it explains how it will guarantee that Morocco respects the EU-Morocco Association Agreement and Council Decision 2019/217, regarding agricultural products grown in Western Sahara.
This is not the first parliamentary question put to the European Commission regarding this issue. In September 2019, Manu Pineda and Sira Riego addressed the European body requesting a response about the illegal importation into the EU of products from the Sahara occupied by Morocco.
They asked the Commission to assess the damage caused by the entry of these products "both for the Sahrawi population, whose resources are being depleted by large multinationals, and for local EU production." In addition, they requested the Commission to assess if they should mandate the labeling of the products to indicate if they really came from Morocco or from Western Sahara so that consumers can know their true origin.