European Parliament

European Parliament

  • The S&D Group at the European Parliament denied freedom of speech to an Israeli official while hate speech poster was displayed during a debate, 18 October 2013


    On 17 October 2013, the S&D Group held a seminar entitled "Bedouins in the Naqab/Negev: Dreams and Nightmare"  under the auspices of Ms. De Keyser MEP, vice-chair of the S&D Group.

    During the event, the organizers displayed a poster with the following statement:"Stop Prawer-Begin Plan, no ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouin".

    It is unacceptable that a poster accusing Israel of "Ethnic Cleansing" toward the Bedouin population in the Negev was displayed in the European Parliament. Europeans and Israelis are fully aware of the possible consequences of the irresponsible use of such words.

    The Mission of Israel to the European Union urges EU lawmakers to condemn the use of such words during an event hosted in the European Parliament and to make clear that the European Parliament is committed to a constructive dialogue with Israel.

    As regards to the seminar, it is very unfortunatel that the organizers of the S&D Seminar systematically refused to host as a speaker Mr. Doron Almog, Director of the Headquarters for Economic and Community Development of the Negev Bedouin in the Prime Minister's Office.

    Indeed, we firmly believe that the participation in the seminar of Mr. Almog, a Senior Israeli official whose work focuses on the situation of the Bedouin community on the ground, could have been conducive to a constructive dialogue on this very sensitive social issue.

    This cast doubt on the genuine intentions of the organizers to hold a constructive dialogue.

    Mr. Doron Almog and Mr. Kamel Abu Nadi, an Israeli Bedouin from the Negev, addressed the Delegation for Relations with Israel in the European Parliament on 17 October and provided first-hand information concerning the Prawer-Begin Bill and its ramifications.

    Please find below links to video clips relating to the events:

    Doron Almog from Israeli PM's Office speaking at the European Parliament

    Kemal Abu Nadi, a Bedoui from the Negev, speaking at the European Parliament

  • European Leaders React to Terror Attack in Bulgaria, July 19, 2012

    The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz made the following statement on the deadly attack at Burgas airport which took place on Wednesday:
    "I condemn this heinous and cowardly attack on innocent holidaymakers at Burgas airport in Bulgaria. On behalf of the European Parliament, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victims and wish those injured a speedy recovery. A full investigation by Bulgarian and Israeli authorities is ongoing into the incident which killed citizens from both nations. Latest reports confirm that this was indeed a terrorist attack which I condemn unreservedly. Those that carried out this barbaric terrorist attack must be brought to justice."
    S&Ds condemn terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria:
    On 19 July, Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists at Burgas airport in eastern Bulgaria:
    "We strongly condemn this terrorist attack which killed and injured many Israeli tourists in eastern Bulgaria.
    "We send our most sincere condolences to the families of the victims and we wish a speedy recovery to the many injured.
    "Our sympathy and solidarity go out to the Israeli people under the dark shadow of this outrageous attack on innocent civilians, including children.
  • Will the European Parliament Provide Cheaper Medicines for Europeans? April 27, 2012

    The European Parliament was this week to have considered a practical issue for European citizens: a trade agreement that would facilitate the import of high-quality and affordable medicines into Europe. Many might reasonably think that the Parliament would be eager to ratify an agreement with clear benefits for European patients; the agreement has, instead, been politicised and the legislative process stalled for the past two years.
    The protocol agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) with Israel is a technical trade agreement that would simplify Israeli exports into Europe. At present, the only products covered by the agreement are pharmaceuticals. If this ACAA were approved, EU patients would have access to a broader range of essential generic and branded medicines, and European pharmaceutical manufacturers would gain access to new markets. ACAA would, likewise, reduce the regulatory burden of certification procedures for national competent authorities, and translate into cost savings for stretched state healthcare budgets. These savings could be passed down to consumers by pharmaceutical firms, which would no longer be hampered by unnecessary conformity-assessment procedures.
    The provision of effective and less costly medicines is highly relevant in the current economic climate, and will be even more so in the future as Europe's population continues to age rapidly. The significance of increased EU-Israeli trade in pharmaceuticals, which totalled approximately €1.1 billion in 2010, is thus essential for Europe's better health and well-being. The EU has adopted a strategy to trade itself out of the financial downturn. To do so, we must identify opportunities and capitalise on them. The ACAA agreement is one such occasion. This is a win-win situation too important to overlook.
    The problem is that some members of the Parliament seemingly do not share these values and are delaying the ratification of ACAA, and, by association, access to quality medicines for patients throughout Europe.
    What began as a technical trade agreement negotiated by the European Commission and signed by the Council of Ministers in May 2010 has been politicised in the Parliament's committees on international trade (INTA) and foreign affairs (AFET). This politicisation is directly responsible for the considerable delay in ratification, a delay that raises serious questions about transparency and democracy in the Parliament.
    AFET's rapporteur on the issue, Belgian Socialist MEP Véronique De Keyser, has called for the Parliament to issue an interim report on ACAA, which would in effect further postpone a decision on the dossier. INTA's rapporteur, Portuguese Socialist MEP Vital Moreira, has called for the Parliament to postpone judgement on the text for two years. In two years' time, new elections to the Parliament will take place. Is the rapporteur recommending that the current Parliament avoid its responsibilities and pass these on to newcomers in 2014? That, surely, is not the opinion of the INTA committee as a whole. As an ex-officio rapporteur, Moreira should reflect the views of the majority of members of his committee, not his own political position.
    It is regrettable that some MEPs are using this technical agreement to prevent EU citizens from gaining access to high-quality and affordable medicines. We believe that members should be given the opportunity to debate and vote on ACAA, to fulfil the Parliament's hard-won responsibilities for oversight of European policy. This should take place without delay. The EU should be taking steps to strengthen our relationship with all our neighbours, including Israel, and by association build on our influence in the Middle East peace process. Stalling the ACAA agreement is not getting us any closer to this objective.
    Christofer Fjellner is a Swedish centre-right MEP, Marek Siwiec is a Polish centre-left MEP, Sarah Ludford is a British Liberal MEP, and Charles Tannock is a British MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists group.
    To read the article that appeared in the European Voice on April 26, 2012, click here.

  • Israel and Europe: We need a new paradigm


    By David Saranga, 12 March 2012

    The Middle East is a tough place for Israelis these days. The daily bill of fare includes the Iranian threat, regime changes in Egypt, rioting and genocide in Syria, and rocket attacks from Gaza. In Lebanon, terror organization Hezbollah is awaiting its cue from Tehran to open a front against Israel.
    Despite this problematic situation, Israel is prospering: the Israeli economy is growing, the hi-tech industry is galloping at full pace, Israeli scientists are garnering awards and Israeli art and culture travels abroad and earns accolades and respect. This year an Israeli scientist won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – the sixth Nobel awarded to an Israeli in the past 10 years – and only weeks ago an Israeli film was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film. Indeed, success has become routine.
    Israeli success stories have many progenitors, but their common driver is one – the spirit of innovation. How is innovation learned? Can it be learned? Is innovation an acquired or innate trait? And, above all, will a scientist ever be able to clone the DNA of Israeli innovation? And if it is cloned, can it be exported?

    Recently, a delegation of European parliament members visited Israel to experience an unmediated encounter with Israeli medical and scientific innovation. While Europe is coping with a deep economic crisis, stagnating indicators of innovation, an aging population, and increased government spending on health care, Israel is indeed a place to learn from.
    A study published several months ago by British think tank The Center for European Reform examined the reasons for the failure of innovation in European countries. The researchers’ main conclusion was that innovation requires an attitude of “creative destruction.” In other words, for new ideas to grow, old paradigms must be creatively done away with.
    During a visit to the Weizmann Institute of Science, the European parliamentarians met with Prof. Michal Schwartz, a world-renowned specialist in stem cell research, who provided the visitors a live illustration of the concept. Years ago, Prof. Schwartz challenged accepted medical paradigms in the field of stem cell research, while others criticized, ignored and even derided her ideas. But today Prof. Schwarz is a leader in her field, and a source of immense hope for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other forms of paralysis, who look to her to find cures for their conditions.
    To read the full article, click here.
    David Saranga is Head of European Parliament Liaison Department in the Israeli Mission to the EU, former Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York.

  • Europe needs access to high-quality and affordable medicines


    By Christofer Fjellner, Marek Siwiec and Baroness Sarah Ludford, Friday 17 February 2012

    The European Parliament is currently considering a very pragmatic issue for European citizens: an agreement with Israel to facilitate the import of high-quality and affordable medicines into the European Union.
    The Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) with Israel would simplify the import of medicines into Europe, and greatly reduce the regulatory burden of certification procedures. This would mean a greater ability to access a broader range of critical generic and branded medicines for EU patients amidst strained national health care budgets across the Union. The provision of high-quality and affordable medicines is a relevant issue in the current economic climate, and ever more so in the future given the rapidly ageing population in Europe. The significance of this trade flow to the well-being of European patients is clearly illustrated by the fact that two-way trade in medicines between the EU and Israel amounted to €1.21 billion between 2008 and 2010.
    The welfare of EU citizens is at the heart of the 754 members of the European Parliament, who are directly elected representatives from all 27 member states working together to ensure and protect European values. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the Parliament enjoys extended powers in a number of key policy areas, including international trade, which we care deeply about.
    The European viewpoint largely seeks to expand market liberalisation and free trade with our main partners across the world. What is beneficial and sensible for EU citizens and national budgets is also of central importance to MEPs. For this reason, we are pleased to see that the ACAA agreement has regained momentum towards a debate and vote in the Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA). The benefits that would accrue for both sides from a ratified agreement, which were clear in May 2010 when the Council initialed the ACAA text, are arguably of increased importance today given the deterioration of public finances and the need to cut government spending across the continent.
    We understand that some MEPs are keen to link the approval of ACAA with the conflict in the Middle East. We are wary of linking trade and health care issues with foreign affairs objectives. This is particularly true in the context of Israel as the country is a valued member of the EU neighborhood policy, and ACAA is part of the Council-approved action plan. The fact that Israel is a leader in innovation in health care products and services undoubtedly played a role in selecting pharmaceuticals as a worthy industrial sector to deepen cooperation in.
    The European Parliament should adhere to this fact and debate the ACAA agreement for what it is – a purely technical accord with clear benefits for European patients. The EU should take steps to strengthen its relationship with all our neighbours, including Israel, and by association build on our influence in the Middle East peace process. Increased ties lead to increased leverage at the bargaining table, which should prove decisive in the future.
    (*) Signed by MEPs Christofer Fjellner (EPP, Sweden), Marek Siwiec (S&D, Poland) and Baroness Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK)