A crucial vote will take place next week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. MEPs will vote whether to approve the ACAA (Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of industrial products) between the EU and Israel. The agreement will enable European citizens to get new life-saving drugs at a lower cost. A company like Teva is a leader in the generic market, and providing its products access to the EU market will save European governments hundreds of millions of Euros, and will benefit European healthcare and well-being.
Negotiations on ACAA were been concluded in 2009 but the agreement has already been delayed for more than 2 years, against the interests of European citizens and contrary to the opinion of the European Council and the European Commission. It is disappointing for me as a Labour Party member to see that the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) and the Socialists and Democrats group (S&D) will vote against it next week, due to lobbying by the PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign).
The EPLP makes a political linkage to the claims of Arabs against Israel. This linkage is wrong and shows that sadly some politicians are more interested in political posturing than in the well-being and interests of their citizens. The ACAA should only be judged by whether the Israeli pharmaceutical industry is modern and innovative (which it is of course) and if it can benefit the European citizens by bringing access to cheap pharmaceutical products.
In times of double-dip recession in the UK and economic crisis in the continent, it is disappointing to see politicians (some of them even publicly endorsed boycott on Israel) playing a part in the BDS campaign against Israel, which has links to Hamas-Connected organisations. The BDS has more of an anti-Israel agenda than a real will to help Palestinians, and it definitely ignores the need for Europeans to have better access to new drugs and whether European governments will save hundreds of millions of Euros.
The Agreement has been delayed for too long and I hope that despite the position of the EPLP & SD, it will be approved next week at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. European citizens, myself among them, expect our representatives at the European Parliament to show responsibility, understand the long-term consequences and the benefits of the ACAA, and put aside the dangerous linkage which can put the wellness and well-being of European patients and citizens at risk.
Tal Ofer is a UK member of the European Jewish Parliament.