THE HAGUE (JTA) — The European Parliament voted in favor of simplifying the sale of Israeli pharmaceuticals within the European Union.
With Tuesday’s vote in Strasbourg, France, the parliament approved “a very important technical-commercial agreement,” Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told JTA in an email.
“The agreement recognizes that the standards of the Israeli pharmaceuticals industry is equal to that of European standards,” he said.
The vote — 379 in favor to 240 against and 40 abstentions — means that Israeli medicines can be marketed in Europe without delay and without further control, which is how European pharmaceuticals are marketed in Israel.
Palmor also said the agreement was “stuck” for two years in the European Parliament channels “because of external political objections” and was adopted after “many efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of Israel’s embassies in EU member countries, and particularly by the Israeli Mission to the European Union.”
The agreement is part of the European Union’s Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance (ACAA) with Israel.
With the vote, the European Parliament is saying "yes to the deepening of the bilateral relations between the EU and Israel," according to a statement by David Walzer, head of the Israeli Mission to the EU.
David Saranga, the mission’s minister counsellor and head of European Parliament relations, said that “We would like to congratulate Members of the European Parliament for endorsing a decision that will have wide-ranging benefits for European patients and industry alike. We are happy that this long-standing dossier has finally gained the Parliament’s approval after considerable delays. We look forward to working with European authorities to implement the ACAA protocol without delay.”
Last month, the trade agreement on pharmaceuticals was approved by the parliament’s International Trade Committee. Its final adoption depended on the outcome of the Strasbourg vote.
The European Council approved the agreement in March 2010, but its implementation has been blocked amid protests by pro-Palestinian organizations. The agreement was part of the 1995 EU-Israel trade contract and is not a part of the upgrade in relations that Israel is seeking.
“EU-certified pharmaceuticals could be exported to Israel and vice versa without requiring additional certification in the importing country under a mutual recognition deal endorsed by the International Trade Committee,” the committee said in a Sept. 18 statement.
Fifteen of the trade committee’s members voted in favor and 13 voted against approving the agreement.