Marek Siwiec MEP on Poland & Europe

Many people think that the European Parliament has a decorative role and only approves decisions taken elsewhere. Or does not approve. Yesterday it gave a consent to a seemingly trivial thing that concerns trade in medicines.

The European Union considers trade agreements as an important tool of foreign policy. Mediterranean countries are covered by the so-called neighbourhood policy. They can apply for facilitated access to European markets and in return European products are sold without obstacles on their markets. The European Union has negotiated and signed such an agreements also with Israel, and a part of it concerned medications. For this agreement to be effective, it had to be ratified by the European Parliament. And here the problem began.

A group of Members (Socialists, Greens and Liberals) decided not to allow the vote as they wanted to punish Israel for the lack of peace in the region, the settlements in the occupied territories, Gaza blockade, etc., etc. For over a year we carried out a dispute as another group, to which I belong, considered that the trade agreement is not an instrument for enforcing global solutions. Moreover, those who pay for its lack are the European consumers because good medicines are inaccessible or too expensive for them.

The Parliament is divided on this issue but last night a vote took place. The opinion that the agreement must be ratified came first (379 votes in favour, 230 against, 41 abstentions). Among the Socialists MEPs from the “new Member States” supported the consent. Social arguments prevailed over political ones – for the benefit of consumer, but not only.

From now on we can definitely talk more about peace and security, and demand that Israel fulfil its obligations imposed by international law.

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