Friday

26th Aug 2016

MEPs split on EU-Israel trade deal

  • Palestinian farmer and Israeli soldiers: MEPs are divided on how to handle settlement products (Photo: delayed gratification)

MEPs have set the scene for an ill-tempered debate on Israeli settlements after the trade committee narrowly endorsed removing trade barriers for Israeli medical products.

Centre-right deputies in the EPP group on Tuesday (18 September) helped push through the vote by 15 against 13 with two abstentions.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The decision - which now goes to plenary in October - came despite a proposal by the committee chairman, Portuguese centre-left MEP Vital Moreira, to suspend the deal for two years in light of "the Union's firm condemnation of Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians, namely in what regards the Gaza economic blockade, which amounts to a collective punishment."

The trade agreement, which deals with the conformity of industrial products with EU standards, is open to all EU neighbouring countries.

But some MEPs say it could help Israel to sell items made in occupied Palestinian territories, further damaging the prospect of a future Palestinian state.

Its opponents remain optimistic the deal will be blocked in plenary.

Following the vote, the Socialist group said it would table an "interpretative declaration" to be attached to the pact to underline that settlement goods cannot be "lawfully traded" as part of the agreement.

Moreira's report noted that parliament has in the past blocked a number of EU-Israeli accords for the sake of the Middle-East peace process.

The committee chairman on Tuesday again said that "de facto" upgrading relations with Israel at this time is not appropriate.

The EU agreed its first bilateral trade deal with Israel back in 2000 and is Israel's main trading partner with total trade between the two worth about €30 billion in 2011.

Plans for upgrading EU-Israel diplomatic relations were frozen by Brussels in 2009 following Israeli attacks on the Gaza strip.

EU foreign ministers in July unfroze the upgrade. But the European Commission and the EU foreign service are currently drafting an EU-level code of conduct for consumer labels of settlement products.

The UK already has labels and Denmark is planning to introduce them shortly. In August, South Africa's decision to label products provoked a diplomatic row with Israel.

When contacted by EUobserver, an Israeli embassy spokesman played down the importance of the parliament vote.

He described it as "a welcome albeit a belated development," adding that it was "another step forward toward the ratification of a technical trade agreement that will benefit both Israeli and European consumers of pharmaceutical products."

He noted that "this agreement does not represent any kind of upgrade of EU-Israel relations, as we are merely talking about the entry into force of an agreement signed already in 2010."

Italy earthquake is test for Renzi

Italian prime minister is expected to present a quick reconstruction plan and request more budget flexibility from the EU after this week's tragic earthquake.

News in Brief

  1. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  2. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  3. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  4. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  5. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  6. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content
  7. Sweden to name new EU ambassador
  8. Deutsche Boerse and LSE request EU merger approval

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  2. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  3. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  4. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  5. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  6. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  7. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  8. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  9. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  10. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  11. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  12. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?