26th Apr 2019

Israel steps up retaliation to EU retail code

  • Netanyahu met Mogherini in Paris despite dire warnings (Photo:

Israeli has said it might block EU aid for Palestinian projects in the West Bank in retaliation against Europe’s retail code on settler products.

Emmanuel Nahshon, a foreign ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday (1 December), according to the Reuters news agency: “The European Union wants to be involved in a variety of projects, some of them ... regarding Palestinian welfare.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"With all those projects, we will need to re-examine whether it is feasible to consider the European Union as a partner while it is using measures of discrimination and boycott against the state of Israel.”

The announcement follows an earlier statement, on Sunday, that Israel will no longer invite representatives of EU institutions to talks on the Middle East peace process.

“Until completion of the reassessment [of EU relations], the prime minister has ordered a suspension of diplomatic contacts with the EU and its representatives in this matter,” the foreign ministry said.

Cancelled meetings

It has, since the EU Commission published the code on 11 November, already cancelled two EU meetings: on human rights and on international organisations.

It's also refusing to set a date for a follow-up meeting on EU projects in the Israeli-administered part of the West Bank, Area C, after initial talks in September.

But Nahshon noted that, EU institutions aside, Israel will keep talking to leading EU countries - citing France, Germany, and the UK - on peace initiatives.

France is a leading proponent of the EU code.

The UK was the first EU member, in 2009, to unilaterally impose labels.

"This decision is almost completely devoid of any real significance," an Israeli official told Israeli daily Haaretz on the diplomatic freeze.

“It's like the EU saying it's cutting communications with Israel but continuing to hold talks with each of its ministers independently.”

The EU foreign service is also downplaying the dispute.

It noted that EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini met with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the Paris climate summit on Monday.

“EU-Israel relations are good, broad, and deep and this will continue,” Maja Kocijancic, Mogherini's spokeswoman said.

“When it comes to the Middle East peace process, the EU does and will continue to work on this in the Quartet [a UN group], with our Arab partners, and with both parties [Israel and Palestine].”

She added that there’s “EU unity on this [the code].”

Greece told Israel in a letter that it won’t apply the measures, however, Israeli media report.

Hungary, and the CDU party of German chancellor Angela Merkel, have also criticised the EU guidelines, with Hungary calling them “inefficient.”

Fraction of trade

The code instructs retailers to say “product from … Israeli settlement” or equivalent on wine, farm produce, or cosmetics from the occupied territories.

It says it's meant to help consumers “take an informed transactional decision.”

It's non-binding.

In theory, member states could face “infringement proceedings” if they don’t apply the EU consumer laws which underpin the guidelines. But officials indicate legal action is unlikely.

The EU imports between €100 million and €300 million a year of settler products, less than 1 percent of bilateral trade.

The previous actions by the UK, but also Belgium and Denmark, prompted some shops to pull settler items, but didn't result in a mass boycott.

A Belgian official told EUobserver its code amounts to little in reality.

“I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t bother to read all the labels on products I buy. Too much info (calories, salt content - who cares?) and the print is too small anyway,” he said.

EU shops to mark 'Israeli settlement' products

European retailers must say “product from … Israeli settlement” on wine, food, or cosmetics from over the green line, the Commission has said, prompting Israeli outrage.

Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve

EU countries ought to draw "red lines" for US president Donald Trump on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Herman Van Rompuy, the former head of the EU Council, has said.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions


Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all

The foreign affairs minister of Haiti calls for the replacement EU-Africa, Caribbean, Pacific 'Cotonou' agreement of 2000 to be updated to take account climate change, infrastructure and tourism to help the country transition away from aid-dependence.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us