Wednesday

22nd Nov 2017

Opinion

Why EU should reject new Israeli trade pact

  • Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Gaza - funded by Germany, Denmark, France and the EU, destroyed by Israel (Photo: Stuart Reigeluth)

On April 24 to 26, the Committees on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and International Trade (INTA) at the European Parliament will decide on the fate of the proposed agreement between Europe and Israel on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA). 

Those in favor of this agreement argue correctly that it will bring economic benefits to Europe as it would lift barriers to trade and lower the prices of specific industrial products entering the European market. 

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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 problem, however, lies not with the need to foster trade with our neighbours, particularly in these times of dire economic straits, but rather in the inaccurate assessment of potential gains and losses for the EU relative to the Israeli ACAA. In fact, the EU has much more to gain from rejecting it.

Rejecting the ACAA means holding Israel accountable for rectifying its incipient democratic deficit towards its Palestinian citizens, while also placing much-needed conditionality on Israel to end, once and for all, its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and its siege of Gaza before further economic preferences and privileges are granted without any apparent results.

Engaging in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only a moral imperative for Europe.

Currently, hundreds of millions of European tax-payer money is being spent by the EU to buttress the Palestinian Authority, for improving the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza and for sustaining Palestinian refugees in UN camps. Not to mention that dozens of EU-sponsored projects were in recent years destroyed by Israeli military without Israel being held accountable.

Beyond the fact that this has created chronic dependence rather than development and that these expenses are legally meant to be paid by Israel, if the Israeli occupation was brought to an end and allowed for the emergence of a self-sustaining Palestinian State, the EU would save much more than the Israeli ACAA could ever generate. 

Moreover, adopting this ACAA would demonstrate the EU's disregard for the provisions contained in its own legal framework, such as the obligation to ensure consistency between trade policies, human rights and foreign policy positions. It would reinforce perceived EU leniency toward repeated violations of human rights articles in its bilateral agreements.

How can the EU expect other partners to comply with basic principles and values it encourages if the EU itself does not stand by them? Coherence is paramount to Europe's regional response to democratic changes underway across west Asia and north Africa.

At the regional level, in times of tremendous change across the Arab world, rejecting the Israeli ACAA would contribute to the restoration of the eroded credibility and standing of the EU, which has too often chosen short-term political and economical interests over human rights.

Now, refusing to endorse this ACAA incorporates these dimensions of EU foreign policy by advancing basic rights and encouraging long-term trade ties.

This change, and the way the EU positions itself, will benefit the European Union and its member states much more than enhancing trade in industrial products with Israel alone.

To support and encourage the positive political and social changes underway in the southern Mediterranean region today, upgrading bilateral instruments with Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine to the level of that which currently exists with Israel would bring much greater economic returns to Europe as well as to these neighbouring Arab countries.

At the institutional level, rejecting the Israeli ACAA would provide MEPs with the ability to play a decisive and mature role in helping to advance a more balanced EU foreign policy in the Mediterranean, which remains pivotal to external relations within the broader European Neighborhood Policy.

Crisis management and conflict resolution is also a long-term economic interest for the EU as stability is beneficial for regional trade with secure access to energy resources.

This is  an opportunity for MEPs to uphold EU Community law and EU's international obligations as the EU does not agree with the Israeli definition of its "territory" which for Israel includes the occupied Palestinian territories.

Since the European Commission has failed to provide sufficient legal guarantees regarding the territorial application of the Israeli ACAA, it should be rejected.

Hard love from Europe now can provide the necessary leverage to compel Israel to change its policy towards the Palestinians and to finally normalise its relations with the Arab world. 

Rejecting the ACAA with Israel may seem symbolic at this point, but it would be highly meaningful as it can help move the Union in a more constructive direction.

Katarzyna Lemanska works at the Brussels-based European Co-ordination of Committees for Palestine. Stuart Reigeluth works at the London-based Council for European Palestinian Relations

Interview

Palestine's UN upgrade coming back on EU agenda

The EU should get ready for Palestine's renewed push to upgrade its UN status and stop calling for "illusory" peace talks with Israel, a senior Palestinian politician has said.

EU takes aim at Israeli settler products

EU foreign ministers have "warned" Israel they will take a tougher approach to exports originating from illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

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.

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

Mind the gap: inequality in our cities

Minimum wages, 'living' wages and a universal basic income are all part of the ongoing mix to find ways to reduce social inequality across the EU.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  2. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  3. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  4. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  6. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  7. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  9. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Step Up Water Management Cooperation
  11. CECEMachinery Industry Calls for Joint EU Approach to Develop Digital Construction Sector
  12. EnelNo ETS Deal Means It Can Still Be Strengthened