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European Trade Union Congress Approves Israel’s Request on Euromart

November 15, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Fifth Congress of the European Common Market Free Trade Unions approved a resolution asking that Israel’s request for associate status with Euromart be “quickly and satisfactorily resolved.”

The degree of support for Israel was beyond expectations. It had been expected that the Congress would limit itself to endorsing the position of the executive of the free trade unions giving general support to Israel’s request for better treatment than it has received in its present limited agreement which expires next June 30. Israel has applied for both a more comprehensive agreement and for associate status.

The action was taken in the presence of Prof. Walter Hallstein, president of the Commission of the European Economic Community, who attended as a guest of honor. The delegates represented 12,000,000 of the 15,000,000 workers in the six nations of Euromart.


Prior to the adoption of the resolution, the delegates were addressed by Aharon Becker, secretary-general of the Histadrut, Israel’s federation of labor. He assured the trade union leaders that Israeli products exported to Euromart countries would never compete unfairly with those made by European workers.

Mr. Becker said that in view of the frequently expressed support by Common Market trade unions for Israel’s association with Euromart, he did not feel there was any need to further persuade the delegates. He described Israel’s current unemployment problems and said that in addition to short-range plans to shift workers from depressed sectors of the Israeli economy, the long-range problem remained that of providing stable employment. This, he said, could be done only by exports linking “our economic efforts with the world’s markets.”

“We must know where we can find markets and for what products so that we can shape our economy accordingly,” he told the labor leaders. “Western Europe is a logical area for mutual trade with Israel.” Israel’s long-range plan “requires that we find our place within the framework of the Common Market,” he asserted.

So far, he said, Israel’s exports have paid for half of its imports and this was reflected in the Israeli balance of payments with Euromart countries. He added that this meant that efforts must be continued to eliminate such trade gaps completely. He emphasized that Israel was not asking the European Economic Community “to solve our problems for us but rather to accept us into a framework within which we can solve our problems by our own efforts.”

He also emphasized that Israel’s economy was not based on cheap labor and that it represented a growing market both “by reason of the purchasing power of our population and the large-scale investment planned for the coming years.”

Ludwig Rosenberg, of Germany, president of the Assembly’s executive committee, accepted an invitation from Mr. Becker to come to Israel to study Israel’s economy. Mr. Rosenberg, in his report to the Assembly, said that the present Israeli-EEC agreement did not take into account several of Israel’s key export products. He said “on our side, as trade unionists, we will continue to give our support to Israel’s application for association.”

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