A brave decision on Israel from MEPs
On Tuesday, as the Jewish world celebrated its New Year, in a committee room in Brussels an important decision was taken by the thirty members of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.
Important, but also very brave.
With the occasional break to disrupt cultural performances by an Israeli dance troupe in Edinburgh, anti-Israel groups such as the PSC have been calling on MEPs not to pass the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance (ACAA) between Israel and the EU.
The loud, often aggressive, lobbying of those who wish to use everything, including European citizens’ health, as a stick to beat Israel with has reached fever pitch over the last few weeks.
In this climate, the bravery of MEPs to resist their calls and do what is best for European citizens, passing the ACAA, is to be saluted.
The ACAA will now be debated in a full plenary of the European Parliament in November. This technical piece of legislation would remove the need for pharmaceutical products produced and safety approved in Israel to be checked for a second time when being imported into the EU. In some cases, this would mean cutting edge drugs being available to the European market two to three years earlier than they otherwise would be, and at vastly reduced prices.
It would appear to be a ‘no brainer’. But perhaps not…..
Groups such as the PSC have argued that passing the ACAA would be to reward supposed Israeli intransigence in the peace process. They conveniently forget that there are two parties which need to negotiate peace and that the Palestinian Authority received a trade upgrade at the end of last year.
They also argue that there are no guarantees that the ACAA wouldn’t be applied to goods produced in settlements, which the EU doesn’t give preferential status to. It rather undermines their point that the EU’s Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, recently gave assurances to MEPS that, if passed, the ACAA would not include these goods.
So after years of delay, the ACAA between Israel and the EU will finally reach the European Parliament plenary in November. It is the fairest and most democratic way to decide the fate of the Agreement. Up until now opponents have used delaying tactics and confusing political mechanism to keep the ACAA away from a vote.
But no more.
Now we just need MEPs to be brave, one final time.