The European Union’s position on the Western Sahara conflict: A barrier to Mediterranean cooperation
Yıldız, Uğur Burç
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In 2008, the Union for the Mediterranean was established by the members of the European Union and the Mediterranean partner countries to turn the Mediterranean basin into an area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity through the development of common projects. However, the Western Sahara conflict prevents the initiation of common projects between Morocco and Algeria and also puts at risk common projects in the entire Maghreb region. This article aims to explain why the European Union, despite its significant leverage on Morocco through strong economic relations and the European Neighborhood Policy’s financial contributions, prefers to remain inactive in solving the Western Sahara conflict. It is argued that the European Union’s inactivity is due to the policies of France, the United States and Spain on the Western Sahara conflict. France and the United States support the Moroccan autonomy plan on account of their strategic interests in Morocco and North Africa, and for the same reasons, Spain pursues a balanced policy that suits Moroccan interests. The European Union neither wants to upset these member states nor the United States by intervening in the conflict and putting diplomatic pressure on Morocco. Therefore, the European Union has adopted an inactive position on the Western Sahara conflict that seriously hinders Mediterranean cooperation efforts under the Union for the Mediterranean.