Sunday

14th Aug 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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."

EU to boost Israel trade relations despite settlements row

The EU is today to confirm moves to strengthen economic ties with Israel, facing off criticism that trade conditions should be frozen due to the diplomatic impasse over Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us