Proposed Ban on Israeli Settlement Products Could Violate Trade Rules, EU Warns Irish Government
Proposed legislation in Ireland to ban imports of goods from Israeli communities in the West Bank could run afoul of European Union trading regulations, the European Commission has said.
An Irish government official privately sought the advice of the commission’s trade directorate last week on the proposed legislation, which passed its first vote in the country’s parliament in July, The Irish Times reported on Saturday. The EU official advised that enacting the bill “would be in contravention of the EU’s competence on trade matters” under a treaty that covers common commercial policy for member states, the paper reported.
A request for a “public policy exemption” to allow the trade ban would also not pass muster, the EU official said, explaining that the commission had “considered that and their legal department was clear that that exemption was quite limited as determined by CJEU [Court of Justice of the European Union] law.”
Summarizing the EU’s warning in an email to colleagues at Ireland’s Department of Business, an Irish official said that the commission’s “views seemed to me to mirror almost exactly those of [Ireland’s] Attorney General in his opinion earlier in the year.” The email emphasized that the legislation could well leave Ireland “open to infringement proceedings, either by the commission or a third party.”
Passed by a vote of 25-20 in the Irish Parliament on July 11, the bill banning trade with Israeli settlements drew support from all Ireland’s major political parties, except the governing Fine Gael party. Israel denounced the bill as “immoral,” pointing out that it would “harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott.”