Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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."

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.

Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU

Lawmakers in Poland adopted a controversial reform of the Supreme Court, despite warnings from the EU that the move could trigger a sanction procedure over the rule of law.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary