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Proċedura : 2012/2693(RSP)
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Ċiklu relatat mad-dokument : O-000129/2012

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O-000129/2012 (B7-0119/2012)

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PV 03/07/2012 - 12
CRE 03/07/2012 - 12

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It-Tlieta, 3 ta' Lulju 2012 - Strasburgu Edizzjoni riveduta

12. Il-ftehim bejn l-UE u l-Iżrael dwar il-Valutazzjoni tal-Konformità u l-Aċċettazzjoni ta' Prodotti Industrijali (dibattitu)
Vidjow tat-taħditiet
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  Presidente. − L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sull'interrogazione con richiesta di risposta orale alla Commissione sull'accordo UE/Israele - valutazione della conformità e accettazione dei prodotti industriali (CAA). Protocollo aggiuntivo dell'Accordo euromediterraneo, di Elmar Brok, a nome della commissione per gli affari esteri (O-000129/2012 - B7-0119/2012).

 
  
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  Vital Moreira, Autor. − Senhora Presidente, de facto esta pergunta oral é subscrita por mim próprio como presidente da Comissão do Comércio Internacional e também como relator deste procedimento de consentimento de um acordo internacional que está em causa que é um protocolo de avaliação de conformidade e aceitação de produtos industriais entre a União Europeia e Israel.

Foram levantadas duas questões substantivas a propósito deste acordo, Uma levantada na INTA, na Comissão do Comércio Internacional, relativa a uma questão de consistência ou de congruência política entre a posição da União que, por um lado, condena sem qualificações, a política israelita em matéria de Territórios Ocupados e de processo de paz israelita, mas, por outro lado, está disposta a proceder a um upgrade, a uma elevação, do estatuto das relações comerciais entre a União e Israel.

O segundo problema, que é esse que está em discussão agora, não o primeiro, foi levantado pela AFET quando a INTA pediu um parecer à AFET sobre a questão da congruência política. A AFET levantou este problema que é o seguinte: o acordo não especifica claramente qual é o âmbito territorial da sua aplicação. O que ele diz literalmente é que os produtos importados de Israel abrangidos por este Protocolo, que são nomeadamente produtos farmacêuticos, entrarão no mercado interno da União sem precisarem de um procedimento de controlo de conformidade e de aceitação dentro da União, desde que tenham sido certificados pelas autoridades competentes israelitas e é este, justamente, o objeto do acordo.

A questão que foi levantada é de saber se isto se pode aplicar aos produtos fabricados não no território legal de Israel, à face do entendimento da União Europeia, que não inclui os Territórios Ocupados, ou se exclui todos os produtos oriundos desses territórios. O problema foi levantado a propósito do artigo 9.° do Protocolo que estabelece a existência de autoridades responsáveis do lado de Israel para garantir este processo de avaliação de conformidade e de aceitação dos produtos exportados de Israel para a União Europeia beneficiando deste regime de reconhecimento bilateral dos procedimentos recíprocos e, portanto, a questão que a AFET levantou e que a INTA secundou e, por isso, a pergunta é feita pelos presidentes das duas comissões, são quatro perguntas, cinco perguntas, eu insistiria, da minha parte, nas duas primeiras.

Primeiro, se a Comissão Europeia pode assegurar, de forma juridicamente vinculativa, que não aceitará tacitamente ou de qualquer outro modo que a competência territorial da autoridade responsável israelita referida no artigo 9.° do Protocolo cobre territórios entrados sob administração israelita a partir de 1967 e a segunda pergunta, que é convergente com esta, é a de saber se a Comissão Europeia é capaz de assegurar que nenhum produto industrial manufaturado nos colonatos, nos Territórios Ocupados por Israel, nos colonatos, na West Bank, na margem ocidental e em Jerusalém Oriental serão certificados dentro do âmbito deste Protocolo.

A resposta clara a estas duas perguntas é essencial porque se trata exatamente de saber qual é o âmbito de aplicação territorial do acordo e, de facto, este Protocolo, que foi claramente redigido e negociado de forma deficiente, porque é evidente que esta questão se tinha de colocar, e que a União Europeia não pode aceitar que produtos oriundos de colonatos nos Territórios Ocupados possam beneficiar deste regime dado às autoridades israelitas e, das duas uma, ou existe uma interpretação unilateral da Comissão que torne claro perante este Parlamento que o Protocolo se aplica apenas ao território legal de Israel de acordo com o entendimento da União Europeia sobre o que é o território legal de Israel ou, então, temos um problema que pode influenciar a decisão dos deputados que constituem a Comissão INTA, que é a comissão competente para esta matéria.

E pensamos que é do interesse próprio da comissão dar uma resposta clara, autovinculante, de que, primeiro, a União - vou terminar, Sr. Presidente -, que a Comissão pedirá os elementos necessários para garantir que a autoridade responsável israelita não tem competência para além do território legal de Israel e que o Protocolo não pode ser interpretado de outra maneira do que limitando-se justamente ao território legal de Israel.

 
  
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  Elmar Brok, Verfasser. − Frau Präsidentin, Herr Kommissar, Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Ich kann nahtlos an das anschließen, was Kollege Moreira hier zum Ausdruck gebracht hat und brauche deswegen vieles nicht zu wiederholen. Der Auswärtige Ausschuss hält das Abkommen für sinnvoll und findet, dass es in Kraft gesetzt werden soll, wenn bestimmte Fragen positiv beantwortet werden. Wir meinen auch, dass die darin enthaltene Bestimmung sinnvoll ist, dass man beim Handel mit existenziell wichtigen Produkten vor deren Lieferung und Zertifizierung Tests durchführt und dann eine gegenseitige Anerkennung erfolgt. Das ist eine Tätigkeit, mit der sehr viel Geld gespart und auf beiden Seiten die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit gefördert wird. Das sollte man entsprechend unterstützen.

Wie gesagt, wenn bestimmte Fragen beantwortet sind, empfehlen wir dem INTA-Ausschuss, im Plenum die Zustimmung zum Vertrag vorzuschlagen. Die Erläuterungen von Herrn Moreira betreffen letztlich die Frage, was der Geltungsbereich dieses Vertrags ist und was mit Artikel 9 des Protokolls gemeint ist. Ist damit auch gemeint, dass er für die Territorien gilt, die außerhalb der Grenzen von 1967 liegen? Fallen Produkte, die aus der Westbank oder aus Ostjerusalem kommen, bei ihrer Zertifizierung unter dieses Protokoll, wenn sie aus den Siedlungen kommen? Oder haben die Produkte, die von Palästinensern kommen, die gleichen Chancen auf Zertifizierung und damit keine Nachteile beim Handel?

Hier würden wir gerne eine Antwort bekommen. Da gibt es bestimmte Zweifel, ob das rechtlich so geklärt ist. Der Juristische Dienst des Europäischen Parlaments hat gesagt, das könnte durch eine einseitige Erklärung der Kommission erfolgen. Dann wäre das für uns erledigt. Darüber hinaus gibt es noch die Frage, ob dies auch technisch machbar ist, ob wirklich betrugsicher kontrolliert werden kann, dass dies durchgeführt wird. Herr Kommissar, ich bin mit meiner Rede fertig.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. − Madam President, thank you for the opportunity to clarify outstanding issues regarding the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance (ACAA) between Israel and the EU.

Let me start by recalling what an ACAA is about. Its objective is to eliminate barriers to trade, through allowing products covered by the agreement to enter the markets of the parties without additional conformity assessment procedures, resulting in mutual recognition of conformity assessment and inspection results, which will reduce costs and time for economic operators.

This is typically a response to technical barriers to trade. The Commission considers that the current ACAA text is compliant with the Lisbon Treaty and international law and that no change or renegotiation is necessary. The Commission would like to provide the following assurances to the Parliament:

First, the ACAA is a Protocol to the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Therefore, while not defining it, its scope of application is the same as set out in Article 83 of the Association Agreement. As it results from international obligations of the EU and as confirmed by the European Court of Justice in 2010 in the Brita case, the EU does not recognise Israeli jurisdiction over the territories placed under Israeli administration after 1967. The Commission will observe this position in the implementation of the ACAA.

Secondly, when the agreement enters into force, the Commission will have to acknowledge under Article 9 of the ACAA the responsible Israeli authority which will have to deliver conformity certificates. This acknowledgement will not entail any recognition of Israeli jurisdiction over territories placed under Israeli administration after 1967.

You can also rest assured that, upon receipt of the Israeli notification of its responsible authority, the Commission will expressly state that acknowledgement is granted only on the basis that the territory covered by the responsible authority does not include the territories brought under Israeli administration in 1967.

Separately, I would like to recall that the ACAAs are not based on the product origin but on mutual trust in the quality of the certification and inspection bodies. ACAAs recognise that certifiers in third countries certify industrial products in the same way as in EU Member States. In practice, the EU will recognise whatever product is certified by Israel, whatever its origin, Israeli or not.

For practical reasons, and for reasons of compliance with WTO’s non-discrimination rules, these agreements cannot discriminate or exclude on the basis of origin. This is also in line with the EU acquis.

These rules also apply under the ACAA to the Israeli Responsible Authority, which could – under certain conditions – certify not only Israeli products but also those from third countries once the ACAA is in force. In the same vein, Israeli and EU Member State Responsible Authorities could also certify products from the occupied territories.

However, as stated before, this does not and cannot imply any recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction over these territories. According to information received from Israeli authorities and NGOs, there is currently no pharmaceutical production in Israeli settlements. Therefore, Israel cannot discriminate against Palestinian products in the certification process because Israel will have to apply the EU acquis.

Like any EU Member State, Israel must carry out inspections irrespective of the origin of the product when a request is received. If there were cases of discrimination, the Palestinian manufacturer could lodge a complaint with the Israeli judicial authorities. Of course, the Commission could also use existing means under the Association Agreement to ensure that Israel implements the ACAA.

Turning to the 2005 Technical Arrangement which allows the EU to identify and deny preferential treatment under the Association Agreement to goods produced in areas beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders, it must be recalled that preferential treatment in terms of customs tariffs is an entirely different issue to conformity assessment and that the origin of the product fully keeps its relevance when the certified product is to enter the territory of the EU.

There have been cases of abuse, which have been detected and tackled appropriately, but they are few and insignificant in volume of trade. The Commission is presently working on a modification of the system, including the publication of a list of settlement codes, which will increase awareness of EU importers and will allow customs authorities to verify these declarations more effectively.

Finally, the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 May held a substantive discussion on the Middle East peace process and agreed, inter alia, that the EU will assess whether existing legislation, in particular in the areas of labelling, is being fully and effectively implemented.

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary, im Namen der PPE-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, sehr geehrter Herr Kommissar! Ausdrücklich herzlichen Dank für Ihre sehr eindeutige Stellungnahme. Ich denke, dass aus meiner Sicht damit die Fragen beantwortet sind, die uns im Kern umgetrieben haben.

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen, ich würde mich freuen, wenn wir mit diesem Dossier endlich vorankommen könnten. Wenn wir uns überlegen, wie lange dieses Dossier jetzt schon bei uns im Parlament liegt – ein Zusatzprotokoll zu dem Assoziierungsabkommen –, dann habe ich wirklich die Sorge, ob das dem Sachverhalt angemessen ist. Wir hatten dieses Dossier zeitgleich mit einem Handelsabkommen mit den Palästinensergebieten zu behandeln. Was ich sehr bedaure, ist, wie wir hier im Haus oft mit zweierlei Maß umgehen, dass wir auf der einen Seite hier zu Recht massiv Druck machen und gesagt haben, wir wollen, dass hier Recht und Gesetz eingehalten werden, und dass hier auch unsere politischen Vorgaben eingehalten werden, aber dass wir den Vertrag mit den Palästinensergebieten schon vor Monaten hier im Parlament mit breiter Mehrheit haben passieren lassen, obwohl dort noch immer Todesurteile vollstreckt werden und Ähnliches. Da sage ich ganz offen, ich würde mir zwischen den Fraktionen deutlich mehr in sich schlüssiges Abstimmen und Argumentieren wünschen!

Aus meiner Sicht, Herr Kommissar, – das ist nach der heftigen Debatte heute Nachmittag ausdrücklich nicht ernst gemeint – sehe ich jetzt nur noch eine Sache, die unsere Zustimmung zu diesem Abkommen ausschließen könnte. Deswegen meine Frage: Können Sie ausschließen, dass durch dieses Zusatzprotokoll Internetserviceprovider gezwungen werden, Daten zu kontrollieren, oder dass Three strikes durch die Hintertür eingeführt wird, oder dass sonst irgendwie die Meinungsfreiheit im Internet oder in Rumänien eingeschränkt wird? Ich wäre Ihnen sehr dankbar, wenn Sie darauf eingehen könnten.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 
  
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  Véronique De Keyser, au nom du groupe S&D. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Commissaire, je vous remercie sincèrement pour les éclaircissements que vous nous avez donnés.

Je pense que vous avez essayé de répondre très sérieusement à nos questions et je m'apprêtais à vous demander si la Commission s'engage à ne pas reconnaître, en vertu de l'article 9 de l'ACAA, la nomination d'une autorité israélienne qui n'exclurait pas les colonies du territoire pour lequel cette autorité est compétente. Je pense que vous avez répondu et que vous serez très vigilant sur la nomination de cette autorité. Je veux vous croire, sur cette question comme sur les autres.

Il me reste deux regrets, plutôt une inquiétude et une grosse amertume. La première concerne les mécanismes de contrôle. Si, nous, Parlement européen, marquons notre accord pour l'ACAA, comment allons-nous être informés des différents contrôles que la Commission mettra certainement en œuvre et comment pourrons-nous nous en assurer? Je n'ai pas de réponse à ce sujet, mais cette question reviendra certainement sur la table en temps utile.

La deuxième chose, c'est une amertume, voire une colère. Je partage l'opinion de mon collègue, M. Moreira, et je trouve que, dans ce dossier, qui est un dossier certes pharmaceutique, pour le moment, la question des droits de l'homme, la question du contexte politique, n'a pas été posée ou du moins n'est pas posée ici. Elle est pourtant immense. Cette fameuse clause des droits de l'homme qui figure dans nos accords commerciaux, sommes-nous sûrs qu'elle est bien respectée aujourd'hui? J'ai perdu cette bataille, je l'avoue, et je m'inclinerai. Je ne l'évoquerai plus. Je suis très sensible aux accords que j'ai passés avec Elmar Brok à ce sujet et donc, je voterai ce qu'il faudra voter. Mais je trouve tout de même hallucinant et insensé dans ce Parlement européen qu'on puisse, d'une part, s'inquiéter de ce qui se passe dans l'extension des colonies, bientôt et, en même temps, n'avoir aucun souci à voter un accord commercial qui, certes, nous apportera beaucoup, tout comme à Israël, mais qui, je le crains, n'apportera rien aux Palestiniens.

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, today we are discussing the oral question that seeks to clarify in a binding way appropriate measures to ensure that the EU will not import medicines or other pharmaceutical products from the Occupied Territories. This is in line with our policies across all imports from Israel, as well as exports. It is now both what Israel and Commissioner De Gucht have said, so it should also apply to these products in the wake of this protocol.

When we talk about the technical implementation of a protocol to a trade agreement, some context and background are important, as it is undeniable that the political discussions have taken the upper hand in this House when dealing with this dossier. When it comes to Israel or the Middle East peace process, we have to be careful not to be so divisive ourselves that we become part of the problem instead of the solution.

Clearly the EU has a responsibility to lead in protecting and promoting universal human rights worldwide. We believe trade agreements are an important lever and I think we should not shy away from firmly invoking conditionality clauses, especially those on human rights. However, to appropriately address the serious problem of the illegal settlements that the current government of Israel continues to build, this may not be the tool. We either have to use the conditionality at Association Agreement level or find other ways. To start with this protocol means we are turning procedures upside down and that will have an adverse effect. If nothing else, the procedural journey that this protocol has made through the EU makes us all less credible, and that is not what we need. Instead, trade and human rights should align in the EU’s external actions.

The ALDE Group hopes the answer to this oral question will provide clarity so that we can put the protocol to a vote. It is then up to Members of this House to vote according to their conscience, as we always do, even on difficult and politicised issues. However, with or without this protocol, I once again urge the Israeli Government to stop the illegal settlements and to move closer to the EU and the international community. Getting by on a day-by-day basis is not the same as a sustainable two-state solution, which moves further away with every settlement built. That is irresponsible towards Israeli citizens in a dramatically uncertain and changing neighbourhood.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Marek Siwiec (S&D), pytanie zadane przez podniesienieniebieskiej kartki” Mam pytanie: czy Pani uważa, że dostęp obywateli Unii Europejskiej do dobrych, tanich lekarstw stał się metodą naciskania na Izrael, aby zmienił on swoją politykę, tak by ta polityka została akceptowana. Czy to jest moralne, aby w ten sposób stawiać problem, wielki problem polityczny pokoju na Bliskim Wschodzie w stosunku do tego, co ma charakter techniczny, handlowy, o czym mówił komisarz? Czy to jest moralne, aby czekać na tę decyzję tyle miesięcy i opóźniać tak długo metodą obstrukcji podjęcie głosowania, które ma w końcu nastąpić?

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake (ALDE), blue-card answer. – Thank you for the question because it allows me to clarify the matter.

I hope that it was clear from my introduction on behalf of the ALDE Group that we are ready to put this protocol to a vote where Parliament can take its decision on whether to go ahead or not, and not to persist with procedural questions as is the case at the moment.

If we want to address the very urgent human rights violations in Israel this, in my view, is not the appropriate way.

 
  
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  Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, au nom du groupe Verts/ALE. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Commissaire, vous n'êtes pas sans savoir que ce sont les associations de consommateurs et les associations de défense des droits de l'homme qui, dans plusieurs États membres, dont la France, effectuent le contrôle de la provenance des produits étiquetés Made in Israël, et ces associations dénoncent régulièrement la présence de produits venant des colonies illégales sur nos marchés. Et ce n'est pas rare! Dans un esprit de consommation éthique, c'est donc la société civile qui tente d'assurer la traçabilité des produits importés d'Israël, puisque l'Union européenne a montré son incapacité à mettre en œuvre l'accord technique de 2005 dans le respect du droit international.

Vous comprendrez que je suis très sceptique et dubitative quant à la possibilité que vous nous donniez des garanties sur, justement, des dispositifs juridiquement contraignants qui fassent qu'il n'y ait plus de produits des colonies entrant sur le marché européen.

Je voudrais dire que, concernant les médicaments, ce sont les enfants de Gaza qui non seulement n'ont pas de médicaments, mais qui n'ont même pas accès à de l'eau potable et à suffisamment de nourriture pour vivre.

Je crois qu'il est important de rappeler le contexte global qui, du point de vue humanitaire et du point de vue des droits de l'homme, est un contexte dramatique et on ne peut se contenter de parler seulement de commerce sans parler de cela.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, the ECR Group believes, with regard to the EU-Israel ACAA, that the concerns raised in the joint oral question from the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Foreign Affairs are unfounded and confused, as this agreement is not about the territorial provenance of pharmaceutical products, but the right for competent Israeli authorities to certify medicines that they examine as being up to EU standards.

There are already separate stringent EU-wide rules about goods arriving from the West Bank and Gaza and what EU tariffs should apply to them. ACAA is a purely technical agreement and has become a highly politicised one as part of an Israel-bashing exercise which does nothing to facilitate access to high-quality and affordable pharmaceutical products for our European consumers.

The ACAA has been delayed far too long in this Parliament and the Committee on International Trade should move swiftly to a vote on the agreement, thus facilitating a decision on Parliament’s assent at a future plenary vote, which should likewise take place without any further delay.

I strongly believe in upgrading EU-Israel trade relations under the Association Agreement.

 
  
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  Κυριάκος Τριανταφυλλίδης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας GUE/NGL. – Κύριε Επίτροπε, είναι καιρός η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση να τηρεί τις ίδιες της τις δεσμεύσεις και τις υποχρεώσεις. Βάσει του 2ου άρθρου της συμφωνίας σύνδεσης δεν πρέπει να αναβαθμίσουμε τις εμπορικές μας σχέσεις με το Ισραήλ, εφόσον υπάρχουν καθημερινές αποδείξεις παραβιάσεων ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων από μέρους του.

Μια τέτοια αναβάθμιση και παραβιάζει τη συμφωνία και εξουδετερώνει το μόνο συγκεκριμένο εργαλείο που έχουμε στη διάθεσή μας για να πιέσουμε το Ισραήλ να συμμορφωθεί με τις υποχρεώσεις του όσον αφορά τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και το ανθρωπιστικό δίκαιο, τόσο εντός του Ισραήλ, όσο και στα κατεχόμενα Παλαιστινιακά εδάφη.

Είμαστε επομένως αντίθετοι στο να δώσουμε την συγκατάθεσή μας στην παρούσα συμφωνία. Η μόνο προϋπόθεση υπό την οποία το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο θα μπορούσε να συμφωνήσει θα ήταν η λήψη ικανοποιητικής διαβεβαίωσης ότι δεν θα επιτρέπεται εισαγωγή στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση προϊόντων ως ισραηλινών, που έχουν ωστόσο προέλευση την Ανατολική Ιερουσαλήμ και τα κατεχόμενα Παλαιστινιακά εδάφη.

Πώς θα εξασφαλίσετε ότι τα προϊόντα από τα κατεχόμενα Παλαιστινιακά εδάφη δεν εισάγονται στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση με ψευδές πιστοποιητικό προέλευσης; Θα δημιουργήσετε ένα απλό αποτελεσματικό και αξιόπιστο μηχανισμό διαπίστωσης του τόπου προέλευσης, δηλαδή, σήμανσης των προϊόντων, για την αντικατάσταση της υπάρχουσας τεχνικής διευθέτησης όπως ζητήθηκε από το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο στο ψήφισμά του της 10ης Φεβρουαρίου;

 
  
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  Bastiaan Belder, namens de EFD-Fractie. – Het staat buiten kijf dat de overeenkomst tussen de EU en Israël over het aanvaarden van elkaars farmaceutische producten de consumenten ten goede komt. Eerdere parlementaire vragen over de overeenkomst, zij het in juridische zin dan wel qua implementatie, zijn bovendien door Raad en Commissie helder beantwoord. Waarom spreekt het Europees Parlement zich dan niet in positieve zin uit?

Desalniettemin begroet ik de voorliggende mondelinge vragen van de Commissie internationale handel en de Commissie buitenlandse zaken. Want nu is per slot van rekening het lang slepende ACAA-dossier eindelijk plenair geagendeerd. Ik hoop en ik reken erop dat deze belangrijke handelsovereenkomst tussen de EU en Israël zo spoedig mogelijk ook in een plenaire zitting van dit Parlement ter discussie en stemming staat. Daartoe doe ik met name een klemmend beroep op de Commissie internationale handel, die in dit ACAA-dossier de eerste parlementaire verantwoordelijkheid draagt, en ook op de rapporteur. En ik dank ook de commissaris voor zijn heldere beantwoording van de vragen. Ik hoop dat het nu echt fini is met dit dossier en dat wij overgaan tot de orde van de dag.

 
  
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  Adrian Severin (NI). - Mr President, I want to thank Commissioner De Gucht for his important clarification.

The real problem of this agreement is neither technical nor legal. It is strictly political. Namely it is about trying to impose our political views on Israel through trade leverages. This did not work in the past, and will definitely not work in the future. If we want to promote our values we must first secure our geostrategic interests, otherwise our values are both in vain and in peril.

Our strategic interest in the present context of major turmoil in the Middle East requires strengthening our ties and cooperation with Israel. Therefore, and to this end, we should ratify ACCA now and not later. Procrastination is not a solution.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner (PPE). - Mr President, we are going from one heated debate, ACTA, to another heated debate, ACAA. Time and again, we have been postponing and obstructing the ACAA, using different filibusters and trying to do everything we can not to do what we know is needed. The only consequence is that we are postponing something that would help patients in Europe, that would give more choice in terms of medicines and that would deliver greater competition and lower prices, even though everybody here knows it is about standards and that there are no medicines produced in the Occupied Territories. So how could this question even be relevant in this context? Even if there were medicines produced there, you know that these standards should apply to Israeli-produced medicines and to imported medicines, no matter where they come from.

The Israeli Government has a clear commitment to applying these standards. That is what it is all about. But sadly this House has managed to hijack this question and make it into another part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the detriment of patients throughout Europe. That is a shame. Remember that we had an agreement and a debate on an agreement with Palestine – quite recently actually – and at that time we had the courage not to do what we are doing here. We judged it on its own merits and approved it. We should do the same thing right here and right now.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Véronique De Keyser (S&D), question "carton bleu". – M. Fjellner nous dit qu'il s'agit de médicaments. Présentement, oui, et les territoires occupés n'en produisent pas pour le moment. Mais nous savons tous que ce qui nous est demandé dans l'ACAA, c'est un cadre de certification, et qu'aujourd'hui, ce sont les médicaments. Demain d'autres annexes pourraient s'ouvrir pour lesquelles l'assentiment du Parlement ne sera plus demandé. Il faut donc aller au delà et il pourrait effectivement s'agir d'autres produits qui seraient fabriqués dans les colonies. Est-ce que M. Fjellner en est conscient?

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner (PPE), blue-card answer. – Ms de Keyser, I am happy to hear that you have read the agreement and know that it is about medicines. But again, even though it is about medicines you acknowledge the fact that there are no medicines produced there. If there were other products and other agreements, let us judge those products and agreements on their merits and not try to kidnap this and say we cannot do this even though we know it is right.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D). - Mr President, I could not disagree more with Christopher Fjellner on this subject. It may be a technical upgrade of the relationship with Israel but there is no doubt there is a highly politicised move at this time. Adopting the CAA is entirely out of sync with the EU’s ambition for policy coherence between trade, human rights, development and foreign policy.

Tomorrow, we will vote on a resolution on EU policy in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Let us be coherent about how we tackle the suffering in the Occupied Territories and the increased trade benefits we give to Israel. We cannot turn a blind eye to the serious escalating human rights violations when we upgrade a trade agreement. More trade and easier trade should never be at the expense of upholding our commitments to human rights. The collective punishment of Gaza is unacceptable and until serious steps are taken by Israel to comply with international law, I strongly oppose this upgrade.

I hope that the Commission is able to give detailed answers on how the CAA would function in practice and how we would ensure that products manufactured in the settlements do not fall under the scope of the protocol. I disagree with Christopher’s analysis that this is never going to happen.

This clarification would help with the CAA but at the moment, even with that clarification, I strongly believe it would be wrong in terms of policy coherence to upgrade our relationship with Israel and I will continue to oppose the CAA until the situation between Israel and the Palestinians improves.

 
  
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  Niccolò Rinaldi (ALDE). - Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signor Commissario, ci sono stati ritardi nel trattare questo accordo nella commissione INTA, ma ci sono ben altri ritardi di ben altro genere sul terreno per quanto riguarda il miglioramento delle condizioni della popolazione palestinese. Questa è una discussione su come evitare che beneficino di questo accordo i prodotti delle colonie, questa è una linea rossa che non può essere valicata, apprezzo quello che ha detto il Commissario, ma è anche vero che finora non abbiamo avuto meccanismi che hanno funzionato.

È anche una discussione sull'impatto politico di questo accordo, perché credo, temo che la sua adozione sarebbe interpretata come un'apertura di credito nei confronti di un governo che non dà molto seguito, per così dire, alle domande dell'Unione europea. Nessun progresso tangibile nella ripresa dei negoziati, tanto meno sulla continua espansione delle colonie a Gerusalemme Est, tanto meno per quanto riguarda – se non qualche modesto progresso – il blocco di Gaza.

Per questo il trattamento di questo dossier è altro che tecnico, è un dossier eminentemente politico, non è banale, e chiediamo alla Commissione anche una valutazione di come una misura di politica commerciale diventi, come è normale che sia in questo contesto, un atto di politica estera sul terreno.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR). - Mr President, it seems that every aspect of trade relations with Israel is used by some as an opportunity directly or indirectly to attack the State of Israel. How much better to recognise that here is a country of nearly eight million people with a standard of living higher than many EU Member States. It has turned desert into productive agricultural land, led the way on desalination technologies, and is home to a phenomenal number of start-up companies and a vibrant democracy.

What a contrast to those around. How much the Palestinians could learn and benefit from this if they were given the opportunity by their own leaders, if they recognised the right of Israel to exist, ended terrorism and hostility and moved forward in a positive spirit with negotiation of a two-state solution.

Those seeking to pick holes in the EU-Israel CAA protocol should ask themselves a simple question: do we want to bring about peace and prosperity for Palestinians or do we wish to condemn another generation to a life of poverty, hardship and insecurity?

On the specific matter in hand, EU policy is clear, namely that Occupied Territory products cannot benefit from preferential treatment under the technical arrangement and the EU-Israel Association Agreement. However, as the Commission itself has said, cases of abuse are neither numerous nor significant. There is no case for changing the technical arrangements and the ACAA protocol should be supported unhindered.

 
  
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  Ria Oomen-Ruijten (PPE). - Wij hebben vandaag een technisch protocol op tafel liggen, maar wij hebben al vaak gezegd dat het bij internationale handel niet gaat om enkel economische en handelsoverwegingen. Als wij naar ons eigen Europees Verdrag kijken, dan zien wij dat het optreden van de Europese Unie berust op de verspreiding van de democratie, de rechtsstaat, de mensenrechten en fundamentele vrijheden en de naleving van de beginselen van het Handvest van de VN en het internationaal recht. Ook de relatie tussen Israël en de EU en het associatieverdrag moeten daaraan getoetst worden.

Voorzitter, met het protocol van vandaag moeten wij er 100% van overtuigd zijn dat de bepalingen van het protocol niet van toepassing zijn op goederen of producten die in bezette gebieden geproduceerd zijn, want dat is politiek. Wij moeten ons afvragen welk signaal wij afgeven als wij gewoon zonder meer dit protocol zouden accepteren.

Want, Voorzitter, - en dat is politiek - helaas, een alles omvattend vredesakkoord dat wij hier met zijn allen willen, komt niet tot stand door de nederzettingenproblematiek. Ik denk dat een discussie over een protocol zoals wij die vandaag houden, in elk geval aan de Europese Unie een aantal drukmiddelen geeft om ervoor te zorgen dat de partijen naar elkaar toekomen. Voorzitter, ik zal morgen ja zeggen, maar ik zal ja zeggen met het absolute signaal dat er goed gecontroleerd wordt door de Europese Commissie.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D). - Mr President, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his clarifications today, which are useful. There are the legal issues that have been raised, and you have attempted to answer some of those, Commissioner. Then there are political and indeed – as some colleagues have said and I agree with them – policy coherence issues.

On the one hand, we have the legal issues. Does the Commission consider that it has the legal authority to reject or geographically restrict the territorial scope of the agreement? What binding assurances can the Commission give Parliament that it will not accept tacitly or otherwise that the territorial competence of Israeli authorities covers the Palestinian Territories? There are widespread reports of circumvention of current rules governing control of Israeli settlement goods, so can the Commission clarify whether it intends to review or reinforce this, or how this ACAA should be monitored?

But at the same time as the Commission provides the legal clarifications, I have to ask myself, irrespective of the legal arguments, is it coherent or credible for the EU to consistently and forcefully criticise the Israeli authorities? We had the motion with the oral question last month, we have the resolution that we will be voting on tomorrow, so is it coherent to pass these resolutions on the one hand, and on the other hand to enhance our trade relationship through ratifying ACAA which – while I accept it is not technically an upgrading, given that it is based on the existing Association Agreement – in practice does allow access for Israeli pharmaceuticals to one of the most lucrative markets in the world? I think that we have to take all of those issues into consideration.

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford (ALDE). - Mr President, I also thank Commissioner De Gucht for his very clear answers, though they only confirmed what we already knew. It is time to get on and vote on this agreement.

Two years of discussion in committee has been a delaying tactic. As Commissioner De Gucht said, the objective of the ACAA is to eliminate barriers to trade by reducing costs and delays. I am rather astonished that many on the Committee on International Trade want to constrain trade and keep up costs. You are doing consumers and patients no favours on choice and price of medicines.

I hope that, if there are Palestinian pharmaceutical products, they will also benefit from easier export to the EU under this protocol. On the question of trade and human rights, I have no hesitation whatsoever in criticising settlements or administrative detention by Israel or the many human rights breaches by the two Palestinian administrations. Trade is not at the expense of human rights. I have to say, as Vice-Chair of the US delegation, that has never stopped me criticising human rights problems like rendition in Guantánamo in the United States and it will not stop me on Israel either.

 
  
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  Paweł Zalewski (PPE). - Panie Przewodniczący! To kolejna umowa handlowa, która staje się zakładnikiem sytuacji politycznej w kraju, który jest partnerem Unii Europejskiej. A przecież konflikt izraelsko-palestyński jest znacznie dłuższy niż historia niepodległego Izraela i jeżeli wyobrażamy sobie, że Unia Europejska może posłużyć się tą umową jako instrumentem, który może wpłynąć pozytywnie na rozwój stosunków palestyńsko-izraelskich, to jesteśmy w błędzie albo popełniamy olbrzymi grzech pychy.

To polityka obu stron, władz palestyńskich (przecież nie zwykłych Palestyńczyków ), ale także Izraela – mówię tutaj o nieuznawanych przez nas osiedlach, które powstają na terenach okupowanych – sprawia, że konflikt ten jest nierozstrzygnięty, ten konflikt ciągle jest zaogniony. I muszę przyznać, że to jest wielki problem dla wszystkich tych – tak jak ja – którzy dobrze życzą państwu Izrael, którzy mają świadomość, jak ważnym jest ono miejscem, państwem, organizmem demokratycznym, świetnie się rozwijającym na Bliskim Wschodzie, a zarazem w jak olbrzymim niebezpieczeństwie się znajduje.

Niemniej oczekiwałbym raczej od tych wszystkich, którzy krytykują ACAA, aby wystąpili z propozycją wielkiego, szerokiego planu, który razem ze Stanami Zjednoczonymi moglibyśmy przedstawić jako Unia Europejska obu stronom, tak aby zachęcić je do rozmów. Wiadomo, że ACAA czymś takim nie jest, lecz nieprzyjęcie ACAA tylko i wyłącznie po to, żeby ukarać państwo Izrael, tak naprawdę w konsekwencji ukarze Europejczyków, którzy nie będą mogli skorzystać z dobrych, świetniej jakości i tanich leków generycznych, które są produkowane w Izraelu, a nie na terytoriach okupowanych. Dlatego wzywam wszystkich do glosowania na ACAA, za tą umową.

 
  
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  Josefa Andrés Barea (S&D). - Señor Presidente, quisiera agradecer la pregunta que ha formulado el señor Moreira sobre este tema, porque puede aclarar y arrojar luz sobre la situación.

Estamos ante el protocolo de un acuerdo de alineación del sistema legislativo de infraestructuras de Israel y la Unión Europea, pero necesitamos tener ciertas aclaraciones y quisiera plantearle dos preguntas: primero, ¿los territorios ocupados de Palestina forman parte del mercado nacional israelí? y, segundo, ¿por qué no existe una cláusula de derechos humanos en este acuerdo?

Respecto al control de calidad de los productos y sobre todo en cuanto a las exigencias extremas en materia de medicamentos, no estamos en contra de los medicamentos genéricos. Muy al contrario, creemos que son mucho más accesibles, pero queremos garantías. Queremos la exigencia de tener calidad. Por lo tanto, ¿cuál va a ser esa certificación a la que se va a proceder, y qué conocimientos vamos a tener en este Parlamento sobre la certificación de calidad de estos medicamentos que se van a producir en Israel?

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE). - Mr President, I thank Commissioner De Gucht for his substantial answer, which clarifies the concerns raised by the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. I believe it is a step forward to make Parliament and the International Trade Committee ready for their final decisions on this issue and to give European patients access to high-quality pharmaceutical products.

We all know that this protocol has been under consideration in the European Parliament for more than two years. I hope two years is more than enough to discuss in depth, to scrutinise all possible aspects of this agreement and to verify benefits and risks to European markets and European citizens. I am sure that it is time to give a green light to the implementation of the agreement.

As has been rightly pointed out today by Commissioner De Gucht, this protocol is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement, which came into force in 1995, establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States and the State of Israel. Its Protocol 5 defines measures and rules on mutual assistance between administrative authorities on customs matters.

It is important to mention today that there are instruments in place to detect cases of abuse. These instruments are legally binding and have been used in the past. The Commission proposed additional improvements and measures to be applied in order to strengthen customs procedures and verify conformity requirements and country of origin declarations.

I believe that legal measures are sufficient. They are functional and they are transparent. I believe that the International Trade Committee should move to a vote on the agreement without delay, facilitating a decision on consent to this agreement to be voted on in the plenary session following our summer recess.

 
  
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  Gianluca Susta (S&D). - Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signor Commissario, le Sue risposte, pur apprezzando la prudenza con le quali sono state formulate, ci tranquillizzano solo in parte. Siamo davanti a una questione eminentemente politica, non solo commerciale: la coerenza formale tra questo accordo e il più generale accordo di associazione con Israele non può giustificare sotterfugi che permettano facili violazioni del divieto che il diritto internazionale pone a carico di Israele rispetto ai prodotti fabbricati nei territori occupati.

Mi rendo conto dei nostri interessi economici, mi rendo anche conto della portata tecnica di questo protocollo, credo però che l'Unione europea debba farsi carico di un'attenta verifica dell'origine dei prodotti, perché nessun protocollo o accordo può derogare dal contesto più generale che presiede adesso. La ripetuta violazione su questo punto da parte di Israele non aiuta un processo di distensione di cui tutti sentiamo la necessità e che deve vedere l'Unione europea come parte attiva per la sua soluzione.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE). - Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signor Commissario, sono da 23 anni in questo Parlamento e ogni volta che si parla di Israele vengono fuori reazioni viscerali più che discussioni tecniche e concrete. Il Parlamento è fermo su contrasti ideologici e politici tra chi è pro o contro Israele, questioni che non rientrano nell'applicazione dell'accordo in discussione e che bloccano inutilmente i negoziati.

La possibilità per le imprese israeliane di sfruttare l'accordo di protocollo per esportare beni nei territori occupati è contrastata dalla possibilità di respingere tali prodotti alle frontiere dell'Unione europea per il cosiddetto "accordo tecnico" grazie al quale le autorità doganali degli Stati membri possono rifiutare le dichiarazioni di conformità a merci e prodotti per i quali esistono dubbi sostanziali per le origini.

A parte il fatto, inciso, che se il Consiglio avesse approvato il regolamento sulla denominazione di origine non avremmo questo problema, per cui mi auguro che la commissione INTA voti al più presto questo accordo e che la discussione in commissione sia una discussione che riguardi semmai la riduzione delle barriere tecniche al commercio e non continui a fossilizzarsi su una strumentalizzazione di un problema che non esiste. Dobbiamo venire in Aula e votare, perché da troppo tempo questo accordo aspetta, portando un documento all'Europa e a Israele.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). - Mr President, the debate today is extremely important; it goes beyond the concrete and entirely justified questions which have been posed to the Commission today in relation to the legal and constitutional concerns about ACAA. This debate is not a technical debate, it is a political debate, and the heart of the question again – which we come back to time and again on international trade agreements and related aspects here in Parliament – is whether the commitments in words to human rights by the European Parliament and the EU will last when faced with commercial interests of European big business and also, in this case, when faced with a political agenda of support for Israel.

Fundamental for me is the point that we cannot go ahead with ACAA when there is a continuation of oppression of the Palestinians, an expansion of Israeli settlements and a continuation of the occupation. A number of MEPs argue in favour, because they say that EU patients would have access to a broader range of generic and branded medicines. That is extremely hypocritical in this case, given the conditions that I saw at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, which does not have 150 out of 450 essential medicines. When I was there they did not have the necessary surgical gloves. We cannot go ahead with this agreement while those conditions prevail.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner (PPE), blue-card question to David Martin. – Mr President, it is fascinating because I have heard the phrase ‘it’s political’ so many times today, first in connection with ACTA and now with ACAA. The fascinating thing is that when we discussed ACTA, the fact that it was a political decision was an argument to vote as soon as possible. But here with ACAA the fact that it is political is now a reason to prolong and obstruct everything as long as possible.

But what I wanted to ask Mr David Martin is this – and, David, as you know, I really respect you: if you think signing now is such a bad thing to do and that we should use it as a political tool, why did you not say the same thing when we had the vote on the Palestinian Agreement if you think it is important to use this as a tool?

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), blue-card answer to Christofer Fjellner. – Mr President, very simply, the Palestinians are not holding Israeli children in jails, the Israelis are holding Palestinian children in jails against international law. The Israelis are conducting a blockade on Gaza, which is wholly against international law, they impose collective punishment of citizens, and I could go on. Israel is completely out of sync with international law.

Contrary to what colleagues have been saying today, it is not the greatest democracy in the Middle East. It is not a democracy, because certain people who reside within the Israeli borders are not entitled to vote in that country.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE). - Susţin şi eu poziţia colegului meu Fjellner şi regret că Acordul ECA cu Israel a fost amânat atât de mult. Subliniez că încheierea sa nu reprezintă o nouă etapă a relaţiilor, ci o punere în aplicare a parteneriatului euro-mediteraneean. În acest context, consider că decizia a fost întârziată pentru o perioadă foarte lungă în mod nejustificat. Îmi exprim speranţa că discuţia de astăzi va reprezenta ultimul episod din această controversă, după care Parlamentul îşi va da, în sfârşit, acordul. De aceea, invit Comisia să prezinte toate clarificările pe care le solicită unii dintre colegii mei, pentru a putea depăşi impasul actual. Reamintesc, totodată, că şi raportul privind participarea Israelului în programele comunitare, pentru care sunt raportor din umbră, este blocat, de foarte multă vreme, la nivelul Comisiei AFET. Sper că această situaţie va putea fi depăşită pentru a permite cooperării cu Israelul să progreseze.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE). - Mr President, I would like to thank Commissioner De Gucht for his explanations.

This agreement between the EU and Israel was referred to Parliament two years ago and the consent procedure has been postponed ever since due to political considerations that I personally do not subscribe to.

I think the agreement is good and one which the EU and Israel need because it will facilitate the trade in medicines between the two countries with benefits in terms of healthcare for our patients. Many patients in the EU do not have access to proper treatment for diseases, especially those suffering from rare diseases. The agreement could change this situation, because Israel is one of the top innovators in the healthcare sector. Agreeing on the rules concerning the conformity assessment and acceptance of these products will facilitate the entry on the market of innovative treatments which our patients need. I therefore think that it is the right time to stop delaying the procedure and approve this agreement.

 
  
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  Margrete Auken (Verts/ALE). - Hr. formand! Denne debat har da vist, at aftalen i den grad er politisk. Det er da en kamp for at få Israel opgraderet. Fra den ene side og fra den anden side, fra palæstinensernes, men også fra store dele af den arabiske verdens side vil en opgradering, en anerkendelse af ACAA blive set som en belønning. Vi har hørt det, os der har været i området, så mange gange sagt meget tydeligt, og det blev også sagt, da Palæstinas udenrigsminister var her, så lad os nu være åbne om det. Dette vil være en belønning, og det vil være more for less, fordi menneskerettighederne går tilbage i øjeblikket, og så giver man faktisk Israel en bedre chance. Jeg tror ikke, der er nogen her - for at svare dem, der siger, at vi bare er ude efter Israel - der er ingen af os, der ikke ville ønske, at vi havde et Israel, der levede i fred og demokrati, inden for anerkendte grænser, både deres egne anerkendte grænser og vores, og som vi med glæde ville handle med. Men vi vil da ikke handle med nogen, der ikke overhovedet vil overholde vores grundlæggende værdier.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD). - Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, abbiamo detto che si tratta di un protocollo di natura tecnica che riguarda la produzione di prodotti farmaceutici, già negoziato dalla Commissione e approvato dal Consiglio nel 2010. Non può essere considerato come un upgrade delle relazioni con Israele, lo ha dichiarato l'alto rappresentante Ashton qui in Parlamento.

La Commissione ha anche dichiarato che non è necessaria alcuna modifica a questo accordo, e peraltro sono stati accertati l'alta qualità dei medicinali prodotti e i vantaggi economici per i sistemi sanitari nazionali. Quello italiano, per esempio, risparmierebbe milioni di euro nei costi di assistenza ai pazienti.

La mia convinzione è che in realtà l'opposizione a questo accordo sia di natura squisitamente politica, con l'intento di boicottare Israele. Chi si oppone a questo accordo per ragioni politiche dovrebbe allora opporsi anche ad accordi commerciali con la Cina, che occupa il Tibet, con la Russia, che occupa una parte della Georgia, con l'Armenia, che occupa il Nagorno-Karabak, e con tutti quegli Stati che attuano gravi violazioni dei diritti umani, due terzi dell'umanità.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE). - Monsieur le Président, je voudrais dire un mot de la procédure.

Je suis ce débat, Monsieur le Commissaire, depuis qu'il est dans les mains de notre Parlement, soit depuis mars 2010. Deux ans et demi, donc, de reports, de retards, de questions, de parties de ping-pong, en bref et de facto, de blocages de l'accord, en ce compris d'ailleurs les dernières questions qui vous sont adressées. Aucun médicament n'est produit dans les territoires et on le sait. Ces questions sont purement rhétoriques.

Cette obstruction parlementaire – on pourrait même parler de flibuste – n'est pas digne de notre Parlement, champion de la transparence sur l'ACTA il y a moins d'une heure et – on l'a entendu – exigeant cette même transparence en permanence de la part du Conseil, comme cela a encore été exprimé ce matin. Certains mènent ici, en toute opacité et dans les coulisses, une véritable guerre de l'ombre contre l'accord ACAA. Quoi que pensent certains de cet accord, j'estime qu'il ne leur appartient pas d'empêcher les autres de s'exprimer aussi sur la question.

Monsieur le Commissaire, j'espère que vos réponses très précises et circonstanciées auront rassuré, pour que la commission INTA et notre plénière ensuite cessent d'être des otages en la matière et puissent enfin, en étant pour ou contre, s'exprimer en âme et conscience sur cette question. Et ceci sur un accord – il n'est pas inutile de le rappeler – qui concerne le libre-échange de produits pharmaceutiques et donc la santé des citoyens du monde.

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, nothing is entirely technical and nothing is entirely political and you will always have this mixture in the kinds of matters that are discussed in this Parliament as in any other parliament in the world. On the other hand I think the political stance of the European Union with respect to Israel is clear: we do not recognise the settlements. We have to apply the existing legislation with respect to the settlements in the way that has been voted upon and the same goes for possible additional legislation with respect to the settlements. That is as a starting point: we do not recognise them.

What I have been doing is giving you the assurances that in good faith I can give you. They are not watertight, and all we can do is to do everything possible to monitor what we have been deciding so as to make sure that no products from the settlements come on to our markets. That is not only relevant to the ACAA, there are many other provisions and many other DGs that are implicated in this and what I will take upon myself is to have a coordination meeting of the different DGs and services so that we can in the future – probably, hopefully – better monitor what is really happening.

There were many other questions, for example on the fact that human rights provisions are not included in the ACAA. The same goes for many other provisions. It is a protocol to an existing Association Agreement, which means that anything that is provided for in the Association Agreement, for example in respect to human rights, also of course applies to the protocols to that Association Agreement. You do not have to repeat them again in the protocol.

There was also the question of whether we could provide you with the information in respect to monitoring. Whenever the European Parliament asks questions to the Commission, be they oral questions or written questions, we try to respond to them and we will of course do so. So if we get questions on the application of this protocol we will try to give as fair an answer as possible and this does not, Ms De Keyser, only apply to the Trade Directorate-General, it applies to a number of other services like SANCO, TAXUD and others. So if you want us to give information we will give the information we have. That will not necessarily be completely watertight because it is about putting into practice existing legislation and an existing protocol to an Association Agreement, but we will do so in good faith and it should be beyond doubt that the position of the European Union with respect to Israel is crystal clear: we do not recognise the settlements and Israel has an obligation of cooperation with respect to the Occupied Territories, for example when it comes to this type of protocol.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Ioan Mircea Paşcu (S&D), in writing. Today’s debate is an example of how politics, veiled in ‘technicalities’, interfere with trade to the detriment of the consumers of both parties.

We, in this House, are split: some have placed the consumers from their countries at the centre of their attention and, consequently, want the ACCA approved, while others want to use ACCA as a ram against Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories, in an attempt to hit the Israeli Government.

The latter’s argument is that we cannot trust the Commission – which we trust on all other similar occasions – to uphold the 2010 decision of the ECJ and clearly state our policy regarding those territories.

And what will happen if the ‘disbelievers’ want to remain unconvinced, in spite of all the assurances of the Commission and all the instruments at their disposal to check and double check that all the current regulations are respected? Will it result in the approval for a technical protocol to an existing agreement being perpetually denied?

I personally think that one should keep things straight and make the obligatory distinction between trade and politics; concentrating on politics for our political objectives and leaving the consumers on both sides take advantage of bilateral trade between the two parties.

 
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