Western Sahara dispute

EU appeals Luxembourg court ruling against Morocco trade deal

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(AFP) The EU said on Friday it has appealed a ruling by the bloc's top court in Luxembourg that a farm trade deal with Morocco was illegal, after Rabat suspended all ties with Brussels in protest.

The European Court of Justice located in Kirchberg, threw out the accord in December because it included the disputed region of Western Sahara, sending the EU's close relations with Morocco into a spin.

A statement issued by the European Union's external affairs arm recalled that Brussels had made clear in December that it intended to appeal.

"The appeal has now been submitted," it said, without saying exactly when. 

"Our belief is that a true partnership implies that the partners listen, share, show solidarity and mutual respect," the statement said.

"There have been numerous contacts with Morocco at all levels since December and Morocco has been kept fully informed during the process," it said.

Morocco announced Thursday it was suspending all ties with the EU to protest the Luxembourg court ruling which it said was "very political" and breached international law.

The ECJ annulled the 2012 trade pact because it failed to explicitly refer to Western Sahara, leaving open the possibility that the accord would apply in the region.

The case was brought before the Luxembourg-based court by the Polisario Front which has fought for Western Sahara's independence for decades, backed by Morocco's arch-rival Algeria. 

Morocco took control of most of the territory in 1975 when colonial power Spain pulled out, sparking a war that lasted until 1991.

A UN-brokered ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario has held since then but UN efforts to organise a referendum on the territory's future have been resisted by Rabat.

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