Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 16:18 UK

EU-Israel pharmaceutical trade rules

A proposal to ease trade rules on pharmaceutical products between the EU and Israel has deeply divided MEPs.

On 23 October 2012, the parliament discussed allowing the Commission to bring in the so-called mutual recognition rule.

This means that medicinal products certified in Israel would automatically be deemed to conform to EU standards, and vice versa.

Critics say there is no guarantee against products manufactured in the occupied Palestinian territories entering the EU market, flouting EU rules.

However, Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht insisted that Israel would have to produce certificates confirming that products did not originate from areas outside Israel's pre-1967 borders.

The debate was broadly split along political lines, with Lithuanian centre-right MEP Laima Andrikiene insisting the deal would benefit EU consumers.

She praised Israel for being the first country in the Mediterranean region to reach the conditions to sign such a trade deal.

However Irish socialist Paul Murphy accused Israel of engaging in human rights abuses, saying the conditions for some Palestinians were akin to "open air prison camps". He and a number of MEPs urged the parliament to postpone the agreement.

MEPs formally approved the proposal at the daily voting session on 23 October by 379 votes to 230.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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