Update_23 Oct 2012_The Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) passed Tuesday in a vote of 379-230.]
This week European policymakers must choose between affordable and high quality medicines from Israel or the crude ideology of Palestinianism.
For the past two years Europeans have lost out on reasonably-priced drugs because of lobbying by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which calls for the boycott of Israeli goods.
The pro-Palestinian group has spent two years delaying the signing of the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance (ACAA), regardless of the fact that ordinary people in Europe are being denied access to life-saving drugs.
Israel is in a position to export large quantities of medicine thanks to generic pharmaceutical firm Teva, which manufactures Copaxone, the world’s best-selling treatment for multiple sclerosis. Teva has also produced a generic version of Lipitor for blood pressure and Actos, which helps people with type 2 diabetes.
Under the terms of the agreement, not only will European pharmaceuticals save a fortune by not having to produce the drugs in the first place, they will also benefit from not having to pay for drug trials. At a time when Europe’s economy is in pieces, the opportunity to import affordable medicines should not be missed.
The Brussels-based European Friends of Israel has said the vote is “a major step in improving the life of European consumers by reducing the costs of medicine and increasing the quality and quantity of medical products.”
In contrast, Israelophobes are pushing hard for a “no” vote, citing alleged human rights abuses in the so-called West Bank. The Socialists and Democrats group of the EU, which form the second-largest bloc in the parliament, have declared that goods hailing from Judea and Samaria “do not comply with EU law.”
It is a shame that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their lackeys in the European Parliament are trying to smash progress and block free trade in favor of a regressive boycott reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
After all, Israel has been at the forefront of medical technology for many years. It was the Weizmann Institute of Science which made the breakthrough that led to the creation of Copaxone. This is the same institute which developed Rebif (also for multiple sclerosis), as well as a new vaccination for hepatitis B and a new treatment for type 1 diabetes.
On the plus side, the fact that the EU is upgrading trade and diplomatic relations with Israel is a defeat for those who believe relations should be frozen until Israel pulls out of Judea and Samaria. Already the EU is Israel’s largest source of imports and its second biggest export market, after the USA.
Meanwhile, the UK government has quietly acknowledged its desire to build trade relations with Israel. At a time when the British economy is in the doldrums, there is talk of encouraging a stronger partnership between UK and Israeli companies in the areas of innovation, hi-tech and science.
So let’s hope European policymakers put aside their anti-Israel prejudices and make a progressive move towards better healthcare for a rapidly aging European populace, which desperately needs cost-effective medical treatment.
A “no” vote would be bad news for Europe’s citizens, who do not deserve to be treated as pawns in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’s malicious war against the Jewish state. A “yes” vote, on the other hand, would show the world that the EU is capable of acting in the best interests of its electorate.