The Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products was extended by the European Parliament sitting in plenary session in its Strasbourg seat, leading to a great deal of disappointment among MEPs who were opposed to it.
Alyn Smith MEP voted against the agreement, along with his group colleagues in EFA and in the Greens, continuing their long-standing opposition to the extension. In spite of that strong and principled opposition the agreement will now be entrenched within the existing Action Plan and will mean that technical barriers will be reduced and costs lowered when pharmaceutical industry products are crossing the border, leaving the EU and entering the Israeli market and vice-versa. Superficially this seems like a good deal that breaks down trade barriers but there are some real problems which should have been addressed and simply have not been.
The ACAA, for example, does not include any measures to guard against violations of human rights nor to encourage the protection of those rights, far less their promotion. There will be no way of identifying the true origin of products crossing the border and therefore no way of checking whether or not the goods were produced legally; there will be no means of finding out whether the pharmaceutical industry products were made illegally in occupied territories and no mechanisms to stop profiteering from such illegally produced goods nor to keep the trade fair and safe. The European Council decided to halt discussions on trade upgrades following the 2008-2009 war in Gaza, and the European Parliament has made it abundantly clear on more than one occasion that it condemns the aggression, occupation and settlement.
Commenting on the results after the vote, Alyn said:
"Rejecting this fatally flawed and ultimately useless agreements with its impotence in consumer protection measures would have sent a signal that the European Parliament does not reward blatant disregard for human rights. Instead, by passing this agreement, we are doing just that. ACAA includes no means of oversight on origination, on whether the products come from occupied territory or not. It is abhorrent to allow goods to pass with ease into our easy to use and wealthy Single Market with its much-vaunted concern for human rights, generating profits for illegal products and no consumer protection for European citizens while producers who are operating perfectly legally face unfathomable barriers"
"Rejecting ACAA would not have been about limiting European access to pharmaceuticals nor about protecting markets. It would have been about ensuring that illegally produced goods do not enjoy trade benefits they do not deserve. I am therefore extremely disappointed that the Parliament has failed to take a clear stance on this matter in favour of protecting the consumer protection principles of the European Single Market and leaving the rights of the Palestinian people in the lurch to fend for themselves. Europe had the chance to speak out today and its voice was muted.."