The following was written by Hadar Sela and published at The Commentator
In the economic climate currently plaguing Europe, one would expect elected officials (and perhaps in particular, members of the Labour Party) to be among the first to support an initiative which has the potential to contribute to easing the strain both on government budgets and the purses of ordinary citizens – especially those with lower incomes.
However, it seems that for some UK MEPs, political posturing is far more important than the well-being of their constituents.
The European Union – Israel Agreement on Conformity, Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) was approved by the European Council of Ministers in March 2010 and then sent on to the European Parliament for ratification. The European Parliament has delayed that process for over two years – supposedly as a reaction to the May 2010 flotilla incident in which nine Turkish political activists were killed after having attacked Israeli soldiers.
As the wheels of that process begin to turn again, anti-Israel activists are once more trying to scupper the ACAA; among them Labour Party member and Scottish MEP David Martin, who spoke against the agreement in the European Parliament, had a letter of objection published in the Guardian and wrote about the subject on his blog.
If ratified and enacted, the ACAA will mean that European pharmaceutical companies will be able to purchase Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and medicines from Israeli companies at lower costs as the need for additional testing in Europe will in many cases be significantly reduced or even no longer exist.
That of course will bring about lower manufacturing costs for European drug companies, ultimately resulting in savings for the European governments which provide their citizens with healthcare, as well as cheaper medications for European citizens paying for certain products out of their own pockets .
In addition, as the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the EU move closer towards putting into place legislation that would require APIs from non-EU countries to be certified as guaranteed to conform to EU Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, some of the EU’s current main suppliers (for example in China) are likely to have difficulties in meeting EU standards immediately and could require significant time and investment to adjust.
In such a situation, a cheap and reliable supply of APIs which already conform to EU standards – such as those found in Israel – could be vital both for the guarantee of an uninterrupted supply of medications to European patients and the safeguarding of jobs within the European pharmaceutical industries.
But the PSC’s lack of respect for the right of European citizens to effective and reasonably priced healthcare appears to be of no concern to quite a few British MEPs, including David Martin, with the PSC claiming that no fewer than 23 of them are against the agreement. Unsurprisingly, several of the same names have also publicly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.