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International law as challenge to EU acts: Front Polisario II

Odermatt, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-6073-3033 (2023). International law as challenge to EU acts: Front Polisario II. Common Market Law Review, 60(1), pp. 217-238.


On 29 September 2021, the General Court of the European Union (General Court) issued two judgments1 in which it annulled Council decisions approving trade and fisheries agreements concluded between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco. The cases were brought by Front Polisario (Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro) the national liberation movement seeking independence for Western Sahara. It argued that the agreements, which applied with respect to the territory of Western Sahara, violated rules of public international law binding on the Union. In particular, the General Court found that the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) failed to obtain the consent of the people of Western Sahara before concluding the agreements. The judgments in Case T-279/19 and Joined Cases T-344/19 and T-356/19 (Front Polisario II) are the latest in a line of cases involving legal challenges to international agreements between the European Union and Morocco on the basis that, since these agreements apply to the territory of Western Sahara without the consent of the people of Western Sahara, they were concluded in violation of international law. After providing some legal and factual background to the cases, this note will discuss how the General Court approached the public international law issues in these cases. It focuses on how the General Court addresses ‘third parties’ to treaties in public international law and EU law. It then discusses how the General Court understands the issue of ‘consent’ in international law. Although the General Court’s reasoning is sound, its analysis is limited by the interpretation of international law in previous cases.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JX International law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
The City Law School > Institute for the Study of European Laws
The City Law School > International Law and Affairs Group
SWORD Depositor:
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