London/Brussels, April 24, 2012
CEPR encouraged by European Parliament’s decision to postpone EU-Israel ACAA
Agreements on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAAs) are mutual agreements that seek to remove technical barriers to trade through the standardisation of legislation and infrastructure with neighbouring Mediterranean countries in particular.
The adoption of the EU-Israel ACAA would open up the European market to Israeli products, most notably pharmaceuticals. While it is correct to argue that trade liberalisation will benefit the EU through offering greater consumer choice and promoting competitiveness, such an approach is deeply short-sighted.
The adoption of ACAA with Israel would send out contradictory messages to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. At a time when the EU has been increasingly vocal against Israel's policies, it does not seem appropriate to offer the reward of greater access to EU markets. Trade incentives can, and should be, used as a tool for applying pressure on Israel to respect human rights law, respect international law, and engage actively in the peace process.
Consistency on the part of the EU is essential. The EU is obliged under its own legal framework to ensure consistency between trade, human rights, and foreign policy positions. The EU must learn from its past mistakes, and the experiences of the Arab protests, that sensible foreign policy must not be sacrificed for short-term economic gains.
The CEPR is encouraged that the Chair of AFET (European Foreign Affairs Committee), Elmar Brok, called for the vote on ACAA to be postponed due to the European Commission’s insufficient feedback on legal questions raised concerning what Israel considers as part of its “territories” and regarding what safeguards would prevent products from Israel’s illegal settlements entering the European market.
The CEPR believes that any amplification of trade relations with Israel should be postponed until Israel fully freezes the development of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, lifts the illegal siege on Gaza, and ends its policy of extra-judicial detention of Palestinian civilians.
Read the CEPR/ECCP opinion in EUobserver here: Why Europe should reject new Israeli trade pact
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