MEPs Israel drug block in EU fails

By Jessica Elgot, May 26, 2011

Attempts to block a new pharmaceutical trade agreement between the EU and Israel have been foiled after MEPs led a campaign against the "political gestures" of the European Parliament's International Trade committee.

The Liberal group of MEPs claim to have halted a backdoor boycott, as Parliament was blocked from voting on the trade agreement, which covers Israeli drugs, until it had the committee's approval. The committee had prevented the agreement being discussed since 2009, after Operation Cast Lead.

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, vice president of Lib Dem Friends of Israel, who led the campaign against the committee's blockage, said it was "wholly undemocratic" and an "attempt, which has been foiled, by a few to hold to ransom the whole process."

She added: "I could not believe this when I became aware of it. This accord is simply an implementation of the [original] EU-Israel Association agreement, so blocking it as a political gesture was completely inappropriate.

"It will benefit not only Israeli producers but also EU exporters and, crucially, health systems and patients as drugs become cheaper. It would be madness for the EU to sabotage economic development in its neighbourhood."

Last updated: 2:09pm, May 26 2011