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Parliamentary questions
27 July 2010
E-4237/2010
Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission

The Commission welcomed the ‘Brita case’ ruling (February 2010) of the European Court of Justice which convincingly confirmed the relevance and correctness of the Commission’s policy on the import of Israeli settlement products, which had been consistently applied since 2004.

Such policy is implemented by means of a Technical Arrangement related to the implementation of Protocol 4 to the the EU‑Israel Association Agreement. This arrangement provides the customs services of the EU Member States with the necessary tools to distinguish between, on the one hand, goods that originate in the State of Israel within its internationally recognised pre-1967 borders and that qualify for preferential duty under the Association Agreement and, on the other hand, goods coming from the settlement areas remaining beyond pre-1967 borders that are considered as non-originating when imported into the EU under the Association Agreement and therefore subject to erga omnes duties. According to the Technical Arrangement, the name and postal code of the city, village or industrial zone where production has taken place shall be indicated on all preferential proofs of origin issued in Israel for export to the EU. In case the place indicated is located beyond the 1967 borders, this information allows the EU customs authorities to immediately refuse the preferential tariff treatment for the products concerned and to recover the customs duties.

The Customs authorities of the Member States are in charge of controlling the implementation of the Technical Agreement when goods are imported into the EU. In addition, the Commission has carried out ad hoc monitoring exercises to assess the proper functioning of the Agreement, based on information collected by Member States' customs authorities. These exercises have proven that the technical arrangement appears to be working satisfactorily.

It is important to recall that the questions of rules of origin and labelling are very different in nature and should not be confused. The rules of origin and the relevant verification procedures are used with the aim of establishing the appropriate tariff regime (preferential or not) and to control its application. The rules and procedures related to labelling are meant to provide correct information to the consumer. In view of this distinction, the Technical Agreement signed between the Commission and Israel focused on rules of origin and did not aim to regulate labelling issues, which, similarly are not covered by the ‘Brita case’.

According to the oral information provided by the Israeli authorities, the export of settlement products amounts to 0,87 % of the total exports from Israel to the EU (circa EUR 760 million). This figure is just an estimation since the Israeli authorities do not provide disaggregated data on EU‑Israel trade flows (no distinction is made between products manufactured from within and beyond the Green Line).

The Protocol to the EU‑Israel Association Agreement on conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products (ACAA) was signed in May 2010 and has been submitted to the Parliament for consent. The first sub-sector covered, in an Annex, is that of pharmaceutical products. This Protocol is in conformity with the Court ruling.

OJ C 170 E, 10/06/2011
Last updated: 12 August 2010Legal notice