Thursday, 26 November 2020

Questions (44)

Thomas Gould


44. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to reintroduce legislation similar to that of the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. [38242/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Occupied Territories Bill would not be compatible with EU law, and would not be implementable. This is the clear legal advice on this matter. The Government will therefore not be taking it forward.

As it stands, however, EU law does already make a meaningful distinction between Israel, and settlements in occupied territory. This distinction has important practical effects. Since settlements are not part of Israel, the EU-Israel Association Agreement does not apply to them. This means that different tariffs apply to goods from settlements, and settlements are not eligible for participation in EU-Israel programmes.

Ireland has been vigilant to ensure that EU law in this regard is upheld. For example, in 2018, Ireland, as an interested Member State, lodged observations in a case which was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union, challenging the implementation of EU rules on the labelling of foodstuffs originating from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The court’s judgment, issued on 12 November 2019, confirmed that foodstuffs originating in territories occupied by the State of Israel, must bear the indication of their territory of origin, and when these products originate from an Israeli settlement, this must also be made clear on the label. Clear and non-misleading indication of origin for certain goods is an essential part of the EU's consumer policy.

EU law and guidelines on goods from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory therefore, clearly differentiate between settlements on the one hand, and Israel, on the other. As such, they are an important part of the EU contribution to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Ireland will maintain its vigilance to ensure full implementation of these laws and guidelines.