08/12/2008

The European Parliament and the defense of a certain coherence of the EU

The European deputies were expected to vote this Thursday an agreement to strengthen the relations between the EU and Israel in several fields. However, on Wednesday, a majority of MEPs voted to postpone the vote, as required by certain associations and NGOs, despite the recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Are MEPs opposed to the maintain of good relations and deepening cooperation between the EU and the Hebrew state contrary to governments which feel more concerned with the EU/Israel relation? Is this agreement particularly binding or innovative? The debate is not lying there.

Indeed, this protocol was linked to the respect by Israel of the commitments made at the Annapolis conference in November 2007. However, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is worsening day after day and the settlements continue to expand in the West Bank.

MEPs have reacted on the basis of their concern for the respect of international law but also on the behalf of the EU credibility, which can not accept an agreement with Israel without the conditions it was linked to. Meanwhile, by refusing to give his assent, the Parliament gave the EU a means of pressure on Israel to respect its commitments.

MEPs who voted the report were clear: the EU is committed on its territory but also on its borders, particularly within the European Neighbourhood Policy framework, to promote the values of respect of the Human Rights, peace and democracy.
How could an agreement on strengthening ties with Israel be signed today as Gaza suffers a siege leading to a humanitarian crisis and as Israel keeps ignoring international conventions and agreements? If the EU wants to access the rank of global diplomatic power, respectful of international law, one day, it can not afford such laxity today.

The European Parliament can only be strengthened by this initiative. If it has recently witnessed the development of its prerogatives and the incorporation of its positions, it has now demonstrated a certain « freedom of thought » preferring to abandon an agreement probably economically advantageous and willed by the States in order to defend a certain moral coherence and credibility of the EU on the international scene.
In addition to the recognition of the role and independence of the European Parliament on international issues, the EP is now giving to its citizens the image of an institution opened to the claims of civil society.

 

Luce Ricard & Nathalie Janne d’Othée