Shaked to European Justice Ministers: Ignore EU labeling directive

Justice Minister says labeling decision is a political measure and not as a measure to inform consumers as the Europe Commission claimed.

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November 16, 2015 21:52
2 minute read.
Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on her European counterparts to not label products from the West Bank, Jerusalem and Golan Heights, in an effort that bore fruit on Monday.

Days before Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said his country would not follow the EU labeling guidelines, Shaked sent letters to him and the justice ministers of Germany, Romania and Estonia with that request.

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In her letter to Hungarian Justice Minister László Trócsányi dated November 12, Shaked wrote that “serious concerns about the legality, necessity and appropriateness of [the labeling] imperative notice have been raised by European legislators and international law scholars.”

Shaked wrote that the European Commission “justified labeling as a necessary measure to properly inform consumers.
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However, it is our position that this action is instead a political measure, which does not advance any political process between Israel and the Palestinians and may even have a harmful effect.”

As such, she wrote seeking Trócsányi’s support in opposing the labeling instruction, which she called “misguided, discriminatory and problematic,” and asked him not to implement it.

Shaked posited that “not requiring special labeling for certain Israeli products would be fully consistent with prior interpretations by the [European] Commission regarding other disputed territories.”

The justice minister pointed out that the European Commission did not require labeling products from other disputed territories, such as the Western Sahara. Shaked quoted the European Commission as stating that it does not “foresee any specific rules regarding requirements as to the labeling of products” regarding EU agreements with Morocco. Israel’s association agreement with the EU also does not mention specific origin labeling.

Shaked also wrote that European courts have already considered the labeling issue, recounting that the UK Supreme Court ruled “that there would be no basis for saying that the average consumer would be misled” by a Made in Israel label on products from the West Bank.

The EU guidelines have been in the works since 2012. Decisions regarding consumer labeling is left to the purview of member states, as is oversight with compliance.

Labeling is mandatory, the commission said, for fresh fruit, vegetables, wine, honey, olive oil, eggs, poultry, organic produce and cosmetics.

For packaged food and other products, it is voluntary, unless its omission misleads the consumer into believing that the product was produced in parts of Israel the EU recognizes.

The United Kingdom, Denmark and Brussels already place consumer labels on products from over the pre-1967 lines. Many other member states waited for the guidelines before taking action.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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