Campaigners calling for a ban on EU trade with all illegal settlements welcome the decision by MEPs to request an exchange of views on the matter with the European Commission.
Brussels, 27 June 2023 – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the international trade committee (INTA) today decided to invite the European Commission for an exchange of views about EU trade with all illegal settlements.
The decision follows from a petition for a trade ban, signed by 277,717 EU citizens, which was unanimously supported by the European Parliament’s petitions committee (PETI) on April 26, and sent to the INTA committee and the Commission to respond.
The petition calls on the Commission to propose a law to prevent EU businesses from both importing products originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories and exporting to such territories, in order to preserve the integrity of the European internal market and to not aid or assist the maintenance of such unlawful situations.
Tom Moerenhout, legal scholar said:
“EU citizens want to see consistent trade policies. Trade with illegal settlements – even on non-preferential trade terms – helps to sustain them. Whereas the EU acknowledges that such settlements hold no legal validity, they still trade with them, and that is against international law which imposes both duties of non-recognition and of non-assistance of such unlawful situations.”
- The European Parliament’s PETI committee debated EU trade with illegal settlements on April 26 following testimony from Dr. Tom Moerenhout, an international law expert and an organiser of the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) “Ensuring Common Commercial Policy conformity with EU Treaties and compliance with international law”. Video recording available here.
- Originally the European Commission refused to register the ECI, evading accountability by saying it was not competent to enact a general prohibition on trade with illegal settlements. Only after citizens successfully sued the Commission, did the EU’s cabinet government acknowledge that yes, it has the competence to implement a general rule to stop illegal settlement trade and that this is indeed considered a general measure in respect of international and EU law rather than a sanction. Further information available here.
- The transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population to a militarily occupied territory violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and, under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is a war crime.
- More than 150 European and international fair trade and human rights organisations support the EU ban petition, including Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Avaaz and ECCP.
- The decision was made today by coordinators in the INTA committee. European Parliament political groups elect “coordinators” for each parliamentary committee. They are each group’s political leader there. The coordinators meeting was held in camera.