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Procedure : 2011/0042(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0300/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0300/2011

Debates :

PV 26/09/2011 - 17
CRE 26/09/2011 - 17

Votes :

PV 27/09/2011 - 8.1
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Debates
Monday, 26 September 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

17. Trade in agricultural and fishery products between the EU and Palestine (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The next item is the recommendation (A7-0300/2011) of the Committee on International Trade on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union, of the one part, and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, of the other part, providing further liberalisation of agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products and amending 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 (07770/2011 – C7-0100/2011 – 2011/0042(NLE)) (Rapporteur: Maria Eleni Koppa).

 
  
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  Maria Eleni Koppa, rapporteur. (EL) Madam President, I think that this is a highly important debate today on this report. Allow me to quote some of the facts: in April 2011, the European Union signed an agreement granting free access to Palestinian imports to the European market of agricultural products and fish and processed agricultural and fishery products. This agreement abolishes duty on imports of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and Palestinian fishery products. We would point out that these provisions do not apply to fruit and vegetables, for which the system remains the same.

This agreement will run for a period of 10 years. In five years’ time it will be reviewed and may be renewed. It should be noted that, today, the Palestinian Authority is the Union’s smallest trade partner in the area. For the year 2009, according to Commission statistics, the rate of transactions was EUR 56.6 million, out of which only six million reflected imports from the Palestinian Authority. During the first trimester of 2010 a rise was observed of 26% in Union exports and 32% in Palestinian Authority exports.

It is clear to us that the future of the region depends on its economic development. Trade is a mechanism that contributes significantly to the reduction of poverty and to political stability. Data from the World Bank illustrate that most of the population is living in severe poverty. The illegal settlements repeatedly condemned by the European Union play a significant role in this.

The Union is the biggest provider of aid to the Palestinian Authority and one of Israel’s basic trading partners. Therefore, it has every interest in persuading both sides to sit at the negotiating table in order to create a viable Palestinian state which will co-exist in peace with Israel. This is also needed in light of the tense atmosphere in the entire Arab world and, in the run-up to the debate to be held in plenary tomorrow afternoon, I believe that it would be a good idea if the European Parliament could maintain a unified stance on the Palestinian question which, after all these years, deserves a fair solution.

To come back to the agreement, I believe that it is very important to the Palestinian side. It is an important message to the Palestinian Authority, especially at the present moment in time, and should be approved immediately and implemented immediately. This is important to peace and stability in the area as a whole.

 
  
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  Dacian Cioloş, Member of the Commission.(FR) Madam President, Ms Koppa, honourable Members, this is an agreement which, whilst it will not solve the region’s problems on its own, certainly presents opportunities that we ought to make the most of.

The new agreement, which the European Union signed with the Palestinian Authority on 13 April 2011, gives free access to the European market for all agricultural, processed agricultural and fisheries products from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the exception of the fruit and vegetables sector, as Ms Koppa mentioned, for which the EU has kept the entry price system. This means that there is partial protection in place during certain important periods for EU producers, whilst the rest of the time Palestinian products can be exported to the EU. This unilateral concession by the European Union has been granted on a provisional basis for a ten-year period, after which there is the opportunity to extend the agreement, depending on Palestine’s future economic development.

The agreement also includes a review clause, whereby five years after it came into force, the conditions of the agreement may be reviewed and its scope widened if necessary.

The agreement also contains an ‘anti-fraud’ clause providing for temporary withdrawal of the trade preferences, which is intended to ensure that only Palestinian products benefit from this preferential agreement. I know that, during the discussion within the Committee on International Trade, some of you raised the concern that other people might benefit from the agreement. I think this clause should deal with that concern.

This agreement is one of the most generous that the EU has ever signed in the field of agriculture. It is justified by the politico-economic situation and the specific circumstances surrounding Palestine’s agricultural sector.

The Palestinian Authority is the EU’s smallest trade partner in the Euro-Mediterranean region. EU exports to Palestine were worth EUR 57.5 million in 2009 and EUR 89.3 million in 2010. At the same time, EU imports from Palestine were worth only EUR 6.5 million in 2009, and EUR 9.3 million in 2010. Opening the market to this region should provide a means of supporting economic development in occupied Palestinian territory, and at the same time give a significant boost to Palestine’s agricultural sector and to farmers’ businesses.

Alongside the introduction of additional trade preferences, the EU will be offering a technical trade assistance programme. In fact, this assistance has already started in the areas of health and plant health, and will continue according to the Palestinians’ future needs and requests.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Madam President, Commissioner, the agreement between the EU and the Palestinian Authority comes at a very important and highly symbolic moment when we are dealing with the issue of Palestinian statehood.

Regardless of whether the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate statehood in the coming months or some time later, the state of their economy will be a crucial factor which will determine whether there can be sustainable peace between Palestine and Israel. For it is naive to expect that the population will be peaceful and law-abiding when most of its people do not have bread on their table and their children must live in poverty.

Currently, the level of trade between the EU and the Palestinian Territories is extremely low. We can therefore expect that the agreement we are discussing today and will be voting on tomorrow will have a substantial impact on the Palestinian economy.

However, we should also think about other ways to increase our bilateral trade, especially by improving the conditions of market access for Palestinian exports to the EU. This would certainly be beneficial to all parties concerned.

Madam President, allow me on a final note to mention that while we are about to approve a trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority, for more than a year Parliament has been keeping on hold an agreement on conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products (ACAA) between the EU and Israel. We will be granting trade preferences to the Palestinian territories, parts of which are ruled by a terrorist organisation, Hamas, but at the same time we are blocking a technical agreement with Israel, which is not acceptable at all.

This shameful discrimination in some political groups in this House has absolutely no justification.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (RO) Madam President, I would like to congratulate Maria Koppa for the fine job she has done and to express support, on behalf of my political group, for the position favouring the agreement between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fisheries products.

Our debate is taking place at a time when changes are occurring to a process which has gone through, so far, decades of bloody stalemate. In light of this, the decision to facilitate access for Palestinian exports to the internal market conveys the European Union’s determination to make an active contribution to the process of building a functional economy.

Economic and political aspects are interdependent in the relations between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority. A fragile economy, extreme poverty and huge unemployment are factors which fuel the potential for conflict in the region. Encouraging trade means that we are not only helping to reduce poverty, but also to strengthen political institutions.

The Palestinian Territories’ economic development also depends on products originating from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank gaining access to the European market. When implementing this agreement, it is important to focus particular attention on the regulations concerning origin. In this regard, the judgment made by the European Court of Justice on the Brita case on 25 February 2010 is applicable, whereby the Palestinian authorities are deemed to be the only authorities able to issue the documents confirming the provenance of products manufactured on the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

 
  
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  Niccolò Rinaldi, on behalf of the ALDE group.(IT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, we in the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe support and thank the rapporteur for the outstanding work she has accomplished in committee, sometimes in circumstances that can hardly be described as relaxed.

Trade between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority is minimal. We are certainly a long way from achieving the full potential of this relationship, and who knows when we will also be able to implement the sections relating to fishing, considering the dual illegality the Gaza Strip is subject to: the illegality of the blockade by the Israelis and the illegality of the control exercised by Hamas over the Strip.

However, we are finally taking full responsibility for our relations, we are making international trade a fully-fledged instrument of foreign policy and above all we recognise the Palestinian Authority as a negotiating partner with full rights. Paradoxically we are doing this while at the same time, at the UN headquarters in New York, we are dragging our feet on the question of recognising its independence.

Let us now hope for rapid implementation with good will shown by all sides. This should include ensuring we do not grant the products of the Jewish colonies any kind of special trade privileges, either as products declared as Israeli or as Palestinian products.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen, on behalf of the ECR Group. – (NL) Madam President, we have before us a proposal to give producers of agricultural and fishery products in the Palestinian territories preferential trade terms. I will vote in favour of this proposal in order to make it easier for Palestinian farmers and fishermen to make a living. We need not link the entire Middle East conflict directly to this proposal, however, as we are currently seeing happen in the Committee on International Trade. There is another dossier in play, namely an agreement between the European Union and Israel on standards in the pharmaceuticals industry. It is astounding that some Members of this House are trying to bring this agreement to a standstill in order to put pressure on Israel to accept the unilateral acts of the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations. For me, that smacks of double standards, and I find it utterly irresponsible and unacceptable. Thank you.

 
  
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  Keith Taylor, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, I rise to speak in favour of Ms Koppa’s resolution. Like many others, I have witnessed the twists and turns in the quest for Palestinian statehood in the United Nations, and like many others I wish them well and hope for a fair and just solution.

In speaking today on the Koppa report it is, for me, not a question of being anti-Israel or pro-Palestine. No: it is more one of championing justice and fair play. We must hope that peace soon comes to this troubled region.

I spent a few days in the Gaza Strip this summer seeing for myself the abject poverty in which Gazans have to live. I listened to the pleas of mothers and fathers unable to feed or educate their children properly, and of doctors and workers who have to work with the most basic of materials. I listened to teachers and their students, refugees and NGOs, and I heard countless stories of stalled business deals, of jobs lost through lack of raw materials, of social breakdown and the strangulation of trade by the Israeli blockade. It became very clear to me that in Gaza and in the West Bank economic recovery and social recovery go hand in hand.

We have some misgivings in our Group about the nature of the agreement, the dislocation of development in social and environmental protection, and some of the practical difficulties around identifying the sources of products. The Koppa report will not solve all the problems between Israel and Palestine; but it is an important marker along the way. As the rapporteur states, opening the EU market to Palestinian products is only the first stage in the construction of a Palestinian state. I urge you to join us in the vote tomorrow in Parliament.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 
  
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  Helmut Scholz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, I welcome this agreement, as a result of which Palestinian agricultural products will now actually be placed on an equal footing with products from other, recognised states in the Mediterranean. I expressly agree with the rapporteur – and I would like to thank her for her work – when she says that this Agreement can help, to a certain degree, to support and strengthen the Palestinian economy, which is currently in crisis, irrespective of the aspects of this Agreement that are still unresolved, to which my fellow Members have referred.

How is a permanent peace solution with Israel to be possible if there is no self-supporting economic development in the future state of Palestine, which also is and must be the basis for further democratisation and an embedding of Palestinian society in the region as a whole – I would like to emphasise this point – for dealing with such complex problems as demographic issues, job creation, issues relating to water supply, the construction of housing, and so on, in a constructive and positive way? I also see this as an important signal in view of the current debate in the United Nations with regard to the long overdue recognition of the state of Palestine. Trade policy – and this is specifically addressed to you – can create specific circumstances here that would signify a tangible improvement in living conditions for the local people. That also involves us taking on specific responsibility for the Arab Spring this autumn. This Agreement can surely only be a first step towards comprehensive trade cooperation as partners.

In light, in particular, of the important global political decision, however, I would also like, here in plenary, to explicitly express my amazement at the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats). Up until just before the vote in committee, it threatened to reject the Agreement. As the price for its consent in the Committee on International Trade, it forced the deletion from Parliament’s explanatory statement of the reference to the settlements and blockades by Israel being partly to blame for the poverty and unemployment in Palestine. Shutting our eyes to reality is not a valid position to take, and the facts and challenges still remain. The same applies to the question of the deletion of the passage relating to the circumvention of the rules of origin by Israeli manufacturers. We will not solve the problem by not allowing a spade to be called a spade.

 
  
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  Bastiaan Belder, on behalf of the EFD Group. – (NL) Mr President, it goes without saying that I wish the agricultural sector and the fishing sector in the Palestinian territories all the best. In light of that I have not the slightest difficulty – the opposite is the case, in fact – with this agreement. What I do have difficulty with, however – and other Members have mentioned this already – is the blockade that those on the left of the House have erected against the trade agreement with Israel, and the fact that they have been doing so for over a year already.

I do still also find the rapporteur’s explanatory statement problematic. She said to me in the Committee on International Trade that she would not alter it at all, and she has been true to her word. However, I can still see a number of serious flaws. There are four very specific flaws that I would like to mention at this point because they actually besmirch Israel’s name and are also irrelevant to this report. First of all, Palestinian exporters choose of their own accord to work with Israeli export facilities and operate in Jordan and Egypt because of corruption. Secondly, the regulation of products from the settlements – and I am sure you will have heard this too, Mr Cioloş – is being enforced to the satisfaction of the European Commission. Thirdly, the Palestinian Authority has itself voluntarily chosen to form part of the customs envelope with Israel because of all the advantages that it currently enjoys through all the customs agreements that Israel has concluded with third countries. Finally, Mr President, apart from investors from Iran or from Arab countries that have no official relations with Israel, it is possible for every investor to obtain a visa, contrary to what the rapporteur claims.

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary (PPE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this Agreement is, without doubt, a question of us taking a step together towards improving the everyday life of the people in the Palestinian Territories. Trade can – as in many other examples, too – play a part in this. However, we should not overestimate the value of trade here. This Agreement will hopefully improve the situation, but it will not happen automatically. After all, all of the questions that lie behind this: who will actually conduct the trade? Which companies are involved? Who will retain the money? Will the money actually find its way into the pockets of workers and local people in need, or will it make certain cliques that also exist in these territories richer? All of these are questions to which we, unfortunately, cannot provide any answers here.

However, there is something that I believe is important – and several previous speakers have already mentioned this: it annoys me how distinctions are regularly made by some fellow Members on the left of the House here and attempts are always made to heap the blame for the unfortunate and surely unbearable situation between Israel and the Palestinians onto one side.

However, the many decades that we have already had to witness this conflict make it clear that the blame certainly does not lie exclusively with one side and that we cannot simply say that one side are the good guys and the other the villains that have to make all the possible concessions. That will get us nowhere.

Therefore, Mr Schulz, when you say that the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) imposed one or two conditions in committee, it was quite definitely – and we said this repeatedly in committee – not our intention to call this Agreement into question. Quite the opposite. However, our issue with this was that, if things have been portrayed in an extremely simplified way in an explanatory statement to such a resolution – the explanatory statement simply portrayed the matter as if only the Israelis were to blame for the situation – there must be some way of amending it.

I am very grateful to the rapporteur for the fact that we found a positive solution together, because it is also the case here that our preferences clearly lean towards the Palestinians, including in the areas governed by Hamas. Where Israel and the Agreement are concerned, I think that the other side is also called on to make some headway here.

 
  
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  Guido Milana (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt this is not purely a trade agreement. This agreement clearly contains a significant element of ‘political’ assistance. This does not involve treating Palestine and Israel in the same way; it is clear that their situations are different. The agreement with Israel is purely a trade agreement, a trade agreement that in some way supports a process leading to the constitution of a state, a process that brings improvements in the living conditions experienced by that population.

Furthermore, the trade agreement with Europe has until now been mediated by Israel, and the result is one where imports form one tenth and exports nine tenths of our international trade. That means that we have seen, or rather, until now Europe has seen Palestine as a market and certainly not a place where producers should be encouraged to target the European market. It is my belief then, with compliments to Ms Koppa, that in this international context we would be doing the right thing tomorrow by using the vote in Parliament to send a strong, authoritative message that will help drive the process at the UN and the Warsaw meeting at the end of the month.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner (PPE).(SV) Mr President, I think it is a very welcome proposal for us to now grant duty-free access to agricultural and fishery products from the Palestinian regions.

On the one hand, it can be thought of as a well-defined proposal. It is, after all, the smallest trading area that the EU has any kind of agreement with in this way. On the other hand, however, it is very symbolic, as some of the debate here today is demonstrating.

Perhaps right now especially, when we see that the Palestinian Authority is attempting to achieve unilateral recognition in the United Nations, although I, personally, have my doubts as to whether that really will be able to establish peace and security in the region.

On the other hand, however, the decision that we will take tomorrow will be able to make a difference. By opening the way for trade, economic development and prosperity, we will also be providing prospects for the future for those who currently lack them, and that is the most important step towards establishing security and prosperity.

It requires Israel’s cooperation, however. A lot of what the Palestinians currently export is controlled in practice by Israeli export authorities, and cooperating to ensure prosperity in the Palestinian territories is extremely important for Israel’s security.

The European Parliament should bear in mind that what we are now doing for the Palestinian side should, of course, also be done for the Israelis. It is not the case that the Israelis will lose out if the Palestinians receive better trade prospects, or that the Palestinians will lose out if the Israelis receive better trade prospects.

Therefore, we clearly ought to get out of the stupid political deadlock we are in when it comes to Acre and also approve an Israeli agreement, because trade produces prosperity, development and prospects for the future. These are things that both the Palestinians and the Israelis need.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D).(PT) Mr President, I believe we should all welcome this trade agreement between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority.Since the value of trade between the two parties is at present so low, any increase can have a significant impact not only on the improvement in the living conditions of Palestinians but also on the state-building capability of the Palestinian Authority, which is at issue. Moreover, we should welcome the fact that this vote is coincidentally taking place even as the Palestinian Authority is in the process of submitting its petition for recognition of the Palestinian state to the United Nations. This coincidence deserves our hearty recognition.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). - (ES) Mr President, there are times when I regret our ambiguity, but today I am proud to be European. I welcome the adoption of this report, which ultimately aims to contribute to Palestine’s economic development.

The adoption of this Agreement also comes at a crucial time for the future of this Arab nation, which has recently applied for full membership of the United Nations.

This Agreement is positive because it will improve the lives and prospects of many people who live under a three-fold oppression: firstly, the oppression caused by poverty, and on top of this, the absence of freedom and the constant infringement of their fundamental rights.

This trade agreement is a way of ensuring that the Council’s conclusions on the Middle East peace process, adopted on 8 December 2009, become something more than words.

We are contributing to peace and to a solution for this conflict by bringing some justice, and we should be proud of that.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). (PT) Mr President, it is urgent and indeed imperative to break the blockade Israel is imposing on Palestine and its people in defiance of international law and all the relevant UN resolutions.

In proposing that this agreement be approved, the Commission, nonetheless, cannot ignore the reality on the ground – a reality which, as heard here today, is one of a brutal and illegal occupation that along with many other factors is creating innumerable obstacles to Palestinian exports and imports, quite aside from the daily obstructions to and restrictions on the movement of people and goods.Furthermore, this agreement necessarily raises another question: namely, trade relations between the European Union and the State of Israel, it being no secret, indeed it is known full well, that products originating in the Israeli settlements enter the European market under this agreement – under existing agreements with Israel – despite the fact that more than a decade ago the Commission itself held that no settlement in the occupied territories could be considered Israeli territory.In the face of this well-known problem the Commission is dumping this problem on the Member States and abrogating its own responsibilities. All of this ultimately underscores that it is more than time to recognise the independence of the State of Palestine in accordance with the petition presented to the United Nations by the Palestinian National Authority as an indispensable step towards the just resolution of this conflict according to international law.

 
  
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  Dacian Cioloş, Member of the Commission.(FR) Mr President, I would just like to stress the point I made at the beginning: this agreement is an opportunity. It will certainly not solve all the region’s problems, and is certainly not the only means the EU has at its disposal of making a positive contribution to clarifying the situation in this region.

However, this is a real, concrete opportunity, and of course it is up to the Palestinian Authority, and now the Palestinian people, to seize it. I see that Mr Ferreira has already left the House. There was what one might call a provocative element in what he said, which, in any case, calls for clarification on the issue of origin.

I want to be clear about this. Through the agreement it has signed with Israel and the agreement it is currently negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, the European Commission aims to ensure that products originating from Israeli colonies on occupied Palestinian territory do not enter the EU. Both the agreement with Palestine currently submitted for Parliament’s approval and the agreement with Israel contain clear safeguards, in that certificates of origin are required both for products originating from Israel and for those originating from Palestine.

As regards Israeli fruit and vegetables, for which Israel is obliged to provide controls on origin, we even go so far as to request the code of the site where the products were produced, so that EU customs authorities can perform their own controls. This is not a way of transferring responsibility from the Commission to Member States, since responsibility for border control lies with Member States.

The Commission has created the necessary instruments to allow Member States and their customs authorities to do their job. In the agreement we are presenting to you now, we also have a safeguard in the form of the certificate of origin, which only the Palestinian Authority can issue for Palestinian Products destined for the EU. This will ensure that the instructions on paper are also adhered to in practice.

To conclude, therefore, I repeat that I am not saying we should have this kind of relationship only with Palestine and not with Israel; however, I think the agricultural trade relations scenario with Palestine that we are currently submitting for your approval contains the necessary elements to reassure us that what is said on paper will be adhered to on the ground.

I should like to thank the rapporteur once again for the work she has accomplished, and I hope there will be a positive outcome of the vote tomorrow.

 
  
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  Maria Eleni Koppa, rapporteur. (EL) Mr President, my thanks to the Commissioner for his very important explanations on that last point. We held a long discussion in committee as to how the origin of products from the settlements will in fact be established because, as far as numerous colleagues are concerned, both in my and in other political groups, these products come from the settlements and we would be rewarding illegal settlement. These clarifications are indeed reassuring and we thank you for them.

At the end of this debate, I should like to thank my colleagues for the debate and for the truly huge opportunity that this report and the agreement reached give the Palestinian people. I believe that the entire House agrees that this agreement is the first step towards the development and prosperity of a people which has suffered immensely over recent years.

The principle on which this report is based is that it must not become an agreement that holds hostage other agreements that need to move forward on a separate track. In other words, the Palestinians must not be held hostage yet again to other issues. Each issue has its own specific weight: we discussed this and tried to ensure that this agreement will be evaluated and will proceed as a stand-alone agreement. This is a huge opportunity for the Palestinians and for the Middle East and a first – albeit small – step towards peace. Once again, my thanks to my colleagues for the opportunity which we, as the European Union, are offering the Palestinian people.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, 27 September 2011).

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – I support this new trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority which will give farm and fishery produce from Palestine duty free access to the European market. The Palestinian Authority is the EU’s smallest trading partner: exports from the two territories to the EU totalled just EUR 6.1 million in 2009. The trade agreement has the potential to help the region to develop economically. However, there remain two serious obstacles to economic development. Firstly, the illegal blockade of Gaza suffocates economic life there reducing a population of 1.5 million to a subsistence existence dependent on an under-funded UNRWA for food, work and education. Secondly, there are serious ‘origin’ concerns about products manufactured in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land gaining access to the European market under the EU-Israel Trade Agreement. Following the ECJ 2010 ruling on the Brita case, the customs authorities of the importing Member States may refuse to grant the preferential treatment provided for under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement where the goods concerned originate in settlements.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) The Agreement under discussion will certainly help the development of the Palestinian economy through the duty-free import of Palestinian agricultural products onto the EU market and it will therefore also facilitate the export of Palestinian products to the EU. In this respect, it represents an important boost for the Palestinian economy, which is currently experiencing a crisis. The situation in the Palestinian Territories is a cause for concern – according to data provided by the World Bank – on account of the severe poverty and unemployment. However, a sound economic basis is a fundamental requirement for a viable Palestinian state and for peace in the Middle East. It is therefore also in the interests of Israel in particular to support this development. From this point of view, the construction of the separation wall in the West Bank represents a significant obstacle and must be abandoned immediately wherever the immediate security interests of Israel are not affected. The non-tariff barriers to trade established by Israel also represent a similar obstacle. In any case, I welcome the approach chosen in the report to insist on the exact designation of origin of the products.

 
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