EU-Israel agreements

The Community has signed several agreements with Israel. The 1975 Agreement, which entered into force the following year, is within the Community’s Overall Mediterranean Policy. It provides for the free access of Israel’s industrial products to the Community market – on 1 January 1989, the free trade regime in the industrial sector became total: Israel then abolished its last custom duties against Community products – and tariffs concession for most Israeli agricultural products. Israel is the only Mediterranean country with which the Community has established a perfectly reciprocal free trade zone.

The 1975 Agreement has been supplemented since its implementation by several « financial » protocols – subsidies and credits conditions granted to Israel as « technical and financial co-operation » – and adaptation « additional » protocols – extending its geographical scope and responding to new economical realities resulting from the enlargement of the Community as much as to the benefit of Israel as to the new Community members -.

The financial protocols granted to Israel are:

  • the first protocol (1978-81): 30 MECU
  • the second protocol (1981-86): 40 MECU
  • the third protocol (1986-91): 63 MECU
  • the fourth protocol (1991-96): 82 MECU

The entry into force of the financial protocols was often delayed: the European Parliament critical toward the situation in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel refused several times to give its assent.

Three « additional » protocols were drafted and submitted to the European Parliament in January 1988 for its assent. Refused several times, the assent was finally given on 12 October 1988 when the European Parliament received the commitment by Israel that it would no longer hinder the Palestinian exports to the Community market.

The 1975 Agreement deals with other forms of co-operation. There has been a significant scientific co-operation between the Community and Israel since 1983 as well as a technological and industrial co-operation. As a result of the closure by Israel of the Palestinian educational institutions, the Commission, urged by the European Parliament, froze the scientific co-operation between January 1990 and February 1991.

In 1991, the Community felt the need to amend the 1975 Agreement in order to bring Israel closer to the Community. A long period of negotiations was required due to various problems and issues, such as the following:

  • the question of the creation and the status of a permanent Community delegation to the Palestinians and the European willingness to control the subsidies granted to the Palestinians. This delegation was finally accepted in 1993 by Israel under a « temporary and unofficial office » in East-Jerusalem, employing February six people;
  • the lack of good-will of Israel in its peace negotiations with the Arabs;
  • the participation of the Community in the International Conference on the peace in the Middle East (Madrid Conference) and the importance of its role in this process;
  • the expulsion by Israel of 415 Palestinians to Lebanon in December 1992.

A Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement was finally signed on 20 November 1995 just before the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Barcelona which fixes the objectives of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. This Association Agreement is supposed to enter into force after being ratified by the European Parliament, the Knesset and the national parliament of each EU member States. Currently, this agreement has been ratified by the European Parliament (29 February 1996) and the parliaments of all the member States apart from those of Belgium and France – where the ratification process has been repeatedly blocked in Commission of Foreign Affairs, respectively of the French National Assembly since March 1997 and of the Belgian Senate since October 1997.

The Interim Agreement concluded on 18 December 1995 (following the European Parliament resolution of 15 December 1995) between the Commission and Israel allows for the immediate implementation of the trade aspects of the Association Agreement. This Interim Agreement is mainly a temporary renewal of the 1975 trade Agreement.

A (renewed) agreement for scientific co-operation was approved by the European Parliament on 19 July 1996. Two agreements on the public procurement and the telecommunications markets – these last two fields were examined at the same time because the one, the telecoms, is of interest more for Israel which is specialized in this area; the other, the public procurements, could be of some interest for the Community if Israel decided the construction of a underground in Tel-Aviv – were signed on 10 July 1997 (approved by the European Parliament on 17 January 1997).

See also:

  • Euro-Mediterranean cooperation
  • Preferential Arrangements granted unilaterally by the Community to Palestinian exports
  • EU-PLO Agreements
  • EUROPEAN UNION, Implementation of the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related matters between the European Community and Israel (Communication made by the European Commission, 05/98)