Thursday

19th Sep 2019

Czech MPs join Hungary in saying No to Israel labels

  • Labels to help consumers make 'informed' choice (Photo: Flickr.com)

The Czech lower house urged the government not to implement an EU code on labels for Israeli settler exports on Thursday (17 December).

MPs from all government and opposition parties, except the Communist party, said in a resolution, according to the Reuters news agency, that the EU code is “motivated by a political positioning versus the state of Israel."

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

Daniel Hermann, the Czech culture minister, noted: "It is necessary to reject these attempts that try to discriminate against the only democracy in the Middle East."

Frantisek Laudat, an MP from the conservative TOP09 party, said the code evokes “marking Jewish people during World War II.”

Marek Benda, an MP from the liberal-conservative ODS party, said it's anti-Semitic. “If the state of Israel fell, Europe would finally fall as well,” he said.

The Czech vote comes after Hungary, on Monday, flat-out rejected implementation of the labels. Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said labelling doesn't contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and increases unemployment among Palestinians.

"It is a bad and unreasonable tool," he said.

Germany and Greece, two other Israeli allies, have stuck by the code.

Also on Monday, EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini said the EU Council unanimously supports the scheme.

But when asked if states who don’t take action will face punitive measures, she said it’s up to them to decide how to implement the EU “guidelines.”

The code, published last month by the European Commission, says most farm products, wine, and cosmetics made by settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank or Golan Heights must be labelled so that EU consumers can make an “informed transactional decision.”

The Commission has also been fuzzy on implementation, however.

When asked by this website, it said the code is voluntary. It said some of the EU consumer laws on which it is based are binding. But it has never launched infringement proceedings on non-compliance with the laws, some of which have been on the books for 10 years.

For her part, Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy FM, in Paris on Thursday called for France to also ignore the code.

“The decision to label products precisely at this time gives a tail wind to terror,” she said, The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli daily, reports.

EU diplomats say the US gave tacit approval to the labels due to Israel’s settlement expansion.

But a bipartisan group of congressmen on Thursday introduced a resolution saying the labels "encourage and prompt consumers to boycott all Israeli goods. This is counter-productive to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, [and] harmful to US national security interests.”

Israeli settlers export between €100 million and €300 million a year of products to the EU, less than one percent of overall trade.

More than half a million of them live on Palestinian land, which Israel conquered in the 1967 war.

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.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  2. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  3. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution
  4. EU adds €100m to research and Erasmus budgets
  5. Ambassador: UK Poles should 'seriously consider' leaving
  6. Trump's UK ambassador stirs up anti-EU feeling
  7. Brexit chaos is lesson to other EU states, ECB governor says
  8. EU condemns Israel's latest land grab

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  2. A new Commission for the one percent
  3. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'
  4. Germany adopts blockchain strategy and says no to Libra
  5. Revanchist Russia continues to rewrite European history
  6. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  7. These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission
  8. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us