EU fails to decide on trade sanctions against Israel amid Gaza war 

In the last few months, there have been increasing calls for economic sanctions against Israel due to the worsening humanitarian crisis from its military operations in Gaza. 

However, despite EU trade ministers briefly discussing the matter earlier this week, they have made no progress toward decisive action.

EU foreign ministers called for a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council “to discuss the situation in Gaza and respect human rights under the obligations Israel has assumed,” according to the bloc’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell. 

Earlier this year, Spain and Ireland jointly urged an “urgent review” of Israel’s compliance with human rights obligations under its trade agreement with the EU. EU officials have confirmed that the European Commission has yet to respond to the letter sent by the two countries. 

When asked about the request, Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the EU “keeps constant review of trade agreements and the values they’re based on.” A date and location for the EU-Israel Association Council meeting have yet to be set, pending mutual agreement from the EU and Israel.

EU officials noted it would be technically possible to suspend only the trade part of the EU-Israel Association Council, but acknowledged that this remains unlikely. 

Only a few EU member states, such as Ireland, Belgium, and Spain, have expressed a willingness to consider reviewing the bloc’s trade ties with Israel. 

Most member states, particularly strong supporters of Israel like Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechia, are not open to such measures.

During discussions between EU ambassadors, several countries, including Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria, questioned whether there was actual unanimity to convene the Association Council. Some EU diplomats admitted that, due to time constraints, the discussion was less conclusive than they had hoped. 

Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, responding to the pushback from member states, told reporters that Thursday’s talks “did not create any reactions.” Belgium hopes such talks could occur during the country’s EU presidency, which ends on June 30.

Please follow and like us: