Business community supports EU-Morocco agreement after CJEU ruling

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The General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) joined European businesses in supporting the EU-Morocco trade agreement, as the EU Court of Justice issued a long-awaited ruling on the applicability of the agreement to products from the Sahara.

“As businesses, we obviously regret the Court’s decision, as it creates uncertainty, harms the business environment and discourages investments”, said CGEM President Chakib Alj, who is in Brussels to meet with BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz following the launch of their “Modernisation Pact on EU-Morocco Trade and Investment”.

With their alliance, CGEM and BusinessEurope are calling for a “complete Morocco-EU free trade area without any trade barriers”, which they consider a “strategic necessity” to foster integrated and sustainable supply chains, build the digital economy and support SMEs that have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What businesses need to thrive is legal certainty and clarity: a reliable business environment that an armed group will never be able to provide – hence why Polisario was on its own calling for the agreement to be annulled, while the Commission, the Council, EU member states, most of the European Parliament, and European and Moroccan businesses support it”, he explained.

“The EU-Morocco agreement remains in force, and the EU and Morocco closed ranks on the application of the agreement, so we will have to wait for the Court’s decision on the appeal to know more. This ruling may however disadvantage products and producers in the Sahara, and all European and international companies that have invested there, mainly on green projects, now find their investments at risk. I could be a huge missed opportunity for the green transition, and a huge development issue, as the populations of the Sahara region may now be deprived of economic means because of this decision”, he said.

With their pact, CGEM, BusinessEurope and EuroCham Morocco show that companies are ready to do their part to face common challenges.

The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most affected regions by climate change and one of the least integrated from a trade perspective.

These shared challenges require a common solution, which would see Morocco as a privileged partner to make value chains more resilient and stimulate investment in renewable energy to complete the green transition.

Economic opportunity seems indeed the only way forward also for the communities of the Sahara, as the European Commission estimates that around 70,000 local jobs, or 1/6 of the total population of the Sahara, depend on exports to the EU.

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