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Overview of EU-Palestine relations (West Bank and Gaza Strip and UNRWA)

The European External Action Service (EEAS) describes EU-Palestine relations in these terms:

"The European Union (EU) has a long-standing commitment to the vision of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. The EU and the Palestinian Authority (PA) enjoy a strong partnership guided by the principles of mutual accountability, transparency and deep democracy that are essential to the establishment of a future democratic Palestinian state."

The EEAS's website contains documentation on:
  • Political relations
  • Technical and financial cooperation
  • Trade relations
  • Humanitarian aid
  • EU Joint Programming.

EU-Palestine Action Plan, European Neighbourhood Policy

The EU launched its European Neighbourhood Policy in 2004 in a document titled "Wider Europe - Neighbourhood". The Policy created a framework for the EU's relations with 16 of the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbours - including Palestine - in order to achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration.

The ENP was reviewed in 2011, following the Arab uprisings, and again in November 2015. While the policy generally aims to foster stabilisation, security and prosperity, the specifics of the EU's efforts depend largely on the bilateral relationship with the country concerned.

There are 16 countries defined as part of the ENP. Of these, 12, including Palestine, have agreed on bilateral Action Plans or Association Agendas with the EU. These set out a series of political and economic reforms with short and medium-term priorities of 3 to 5 years. ENP Action Plans/Association Agendas reflect the needs, capacities an interests of the country and the EU.

A new EU-Palestine Action Plan was approved in May 2013 setting the agenda for economic and political cooperation with the EU.

EU-Palestine Interim Association Agreement

The "Euro-Mediterranean Interim Association Agreement on trade and cooperation between the European Community, of the one part, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, of the other part" was signed in Brussels on 24 February 1997 and entered into force on 1 July 1997.

This interim agreement, which is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed), grants:
  • duty-free access to the EU market for manufactured goods from Palestine
  • duty-free and quota-free access for agricultural, processed agricultural and fishery products from Palestine to the EU and preferential treatment for certain agricultural, processed agricultural and fishery products from the EU to Palestine.
The treaty aims to consolidate ties between Palestinians and the European Union and to lead towards negotiations on a Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement.