European Voice last week published a piece by four MEPs on the EU-Israel trade agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products, ACAA (“Stuck at the border”, 26 April-2 May).
The authors of that piece accuse me, the ex-officio rapporteur for that file, of reflecting my own political position in the draft report that I put forward on 7 March, rather than the views of the majority of the international trade committee (INTA). This is a completely false accusation.
First: when I put forward my draft report (abiding by the agreed calendar) recommending the suspension of the European Parliament’s decision on ACAA for two years, there was no clear majority position in INTA. There still isn’t, for that matter, given that no vote has yet been taken. Also, the discussions so far have shown no clear orientation, but, rather, a deep divide between those in favour of the agreement and those against it. I have not gone against the opinion of the committee – because there isn’t one.
Second: it is also false to say that the draft report reflects my own position, given that I have made no secret of my opposition to the agreement and my intention to vote for its rejection. Therefore, when I proposed to suspend the decision for two years in order to re-examine the issue in (hopefully) different circumstances, I was presenting a compromise position, not my own.
The allegation that rejecting or delaying ratification of the ACAA will affect the availability of affordable Israeli medicines in the European market is groundless. As a matter of fact, these medicines will continue freely to enter the EU. The only beneficiaries of the agreement will be Israel’s (very competitive) pharmaceuticals companies, which would have direct access to the European single market with no need to go through the European conformity assessment and authorisation procedures, because under ACAA these will be performed at home.
My compromise proposal is far from unwarranted. What I defend is that the EU should not awardIsraela significant enhancement of bilateral trade relations given the terrible situation now prevailing in the occupied territories. At least not while the Israeli government continues to ignore defiantly the firm condemnation made by the EU of its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. In fact, one of the most important principles of the Treaty of the EU regarding the external action of theUnionis the consistency of its various streams, namely the external trade policy and the foreign and security policy. Ratification of ACAA would be interpreted as condoning the unacceptable situation in the occupied territories – namely, the economic blockade of Gaza, which amounts to a collective punishment of the whole population of the territory; the continuation of the illegal settlements on the occupied territories; the annexation of East Jerusalem; and the breach of fundamental rights of the Palestinians, namely the right to their land, freedom of movement, freedom to work, and, of course, their right to self-determination.
I can understand that the ‘Friends of Israel’ would rather forget the need to ensure such coherence between EU policies. But those who care for the consistency of the EU’s external action (and for the rights of the Palestinians) should not.
Vital Moreira MEP