Saturday

30th Jul 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."

EU free movement must be curbed, UK says

British leader Theresa May has said free movement of EU workers to Britain cannot continue as in the past, while visiting Slovakia and Poland on Thursday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children

Latest News

  1. EU encouraged car industry to cheat, French report says
  2. Terrorism and migration top EU public's concern
  3. Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule
  4. Car lobby complained about emissions tampering by others
  5. Critical IMF report heralds new Greek bailout battle
  6. EU free movement must be curbed, UK says
  7. EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law
  8. Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy