Nov. 13, 2015
Europe Mislabels Israel – Eugene Kontorovich
This week the European Commission announced guidelines suggesting that Israeli products from areas that came under its control in 1967 be labeled “Israeli Settlement” products and not “Made in Israel” as they have been until now. The policy carves out a special legal rule for Israel, not only contradicting the EU’s own official position, but also going against rulings of European national courts, and violating basic tenets of the World Trade Organization.
In fact, the labeling controversy must be viewed as just one step in a broader, purposeful and gradual escalation of anti-Israel measures by the EU. Diplomats in Brussels and NGOs have made clear that more coercive measures will follow.
Just last year, the British Supreme Court ruled, in a case involving Ahava beauty products produced in the West Bank, that “there was no basis for saying that the average consumer would be misled” by a “Made in Israel” label. The court held that such labeling was not deceptive as a matter of both British and EU law.
Moreover, discrimination against trading partners represents a core violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and other treaties of the World Trade Organization, as law professor Avi Bell and I have shown in detail in a recent paper. The EU’s labeling guidelines are manifestly discriminatory, as they apply only to Israel. Under the WTO’s nondiscrimination requirement, it is impermissible to apply trade rules and restrictions to some member countries and not to others. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. (New York Times)