EU member state business advisories on Israeli settlements

Blog


twitter-icon @h_lovatt


To date, 18 EU member states have advisories warning their businesses of the legal, financial and reputational consequences they could expose themselves to in dealings with Israeli settlement entities. In addition, the Netherlands maintains a long-standing policy of discouraging business ties with Israeli settlements despite having not published a business advisory.

The ease of access and prominence attributed to these advisories varies from state to state as does the level of detail provided. A number of these advisories re-iterate the common messaging relating settlement business activities that was developed by the Council’s Maghreb/Mashreq (MaMa) Working Party in June 2013.

Some, such as Belgium’s and Denmark’s, provide links to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) and the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Other states, such as the UK and Sweden, have more detailed guidance. The latter also explains the non-applicability of preferential trade tariffs as well as the EU’s financial and product labelling guidance in relation to Israeli settlements.

In February 2017, the German government strengthened its business guidance to more explicitly warn that “financial transactions, investment, purchasing and procurement, as well as other economic activities (including tourism and other sectors of the service sector) in or for the benefit of Israeli settlements result in legal and economic risks”. Germany also added a strict territorial clause distinguishing between the Palestinian Territories and the territory of the State of Israel based on the 5 June 1967 Green Line. 

Relevant extracts – in some cases translated – of the guidance issued by member states are posted below with links to the original sources.

From: EU differentiation and the push for peace in Israel-Palestine

 

Austria

http://www.bmeia.gv.at/aussenministerium/buergerservice/reiseinformation/a-z-laender/israel-de.html

The European Union and its member states point out to European citizens and economic operators the risks associated with financial and economic activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investment, purchases, procurement as well as other economic activities (including in services such as tourism) in Israeli settlements or for the benefit of Israeli settlements, involve legal and economic risks due to the fact that the Israeli settlements are established in occupied territory according to international law and are therefore not a legitimate part of the Israeli state. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Similarly, possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights should be taken into account. Prospective buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians or between Israel and Syria could have consequences for acquired property and economic activities in these settlements. In disputes, it could be very difficult for the EU.

EU citizens and economic operators should also be aware of the potential impact on their reputation when they are involved economically and financially in the settlements.

EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding. 

 

Belgium

http://diplomatie.belgium.be/fr/businessguidelines

The European Union and its member states are raising awareness among European businesses and citizens of the risks of financial and economic activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, acquisitions and other economic activities (including tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements include economic and legal risks. These arise from the fact that, under international law, Israeli settlements are developed on occupied territory and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israeli territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international humanitarian law and the law on human rights should also be considered.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for the property purchases or economic activities promoted in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

Companies and EU citizens should also be aware of the potential implications, in terms of their reputation, which could arise from their participation in economic and financial activities in the settlements.

Companies and EU citizens contemplating financial or economic interest in the settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before taking any steps.

 

Czech Republic

http://www.mzv.cz/file/1215159/EEAS_Common_Messages_for_EU_citizens_and_businesses_n._82_13.pdf

The European Union and its member states consider that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. The EU and its Member states will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories that have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

As a result of the above, the European Union and its member states are raising European citizens’ and businesses’ awareness of the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law should also be borne in mind.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements.

EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding.

 

 

Croatia

http://gd.mvep.hr/files/file/gd/2014/140704-Messages_hrv.pdf

Citizens and entrepreneurs from the EU who are willing to participate in economic or financial activities in these settlements should therefore be aware of all the risks arising from it. All financial transactions, investment, purchasing, procurement, as well as all other economic activities (including in service industries such as tourism) in Israeli settlements or that are in any way connected with Israeli settlements include legal and economic risks associated with the fact that Israeli settlements are built on occupied territory and are not recognised as a legitimate part of the national territory of Israel.

Potential buyers should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians and between Israel and Syria could affect the property they buy or economic activities carried out in these areas. Furthermore, in case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of these interests from a legal and political point of view. Citizens and entrepreneurs from the EU should also be aware of the potential damage to their reputation as a result of their participation in economic and financial activities in the settlements, also taking into account possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights arising from the occupation.

Given the above, the European Union and its member states have a duty to raise the awareness of European citizens and businesses of the need for careful treatment relating to potential involvement in any activity in the settlements or in activities that could contribute to legitimising and sustaining Israeli settlements.

 

Denmark

http://israel.um.dk/en/the-trade-council/market/framework-conditions-and-barriers/information-regarding-financial-and-economic-activities-in-the-settlements/

The European Union and its member states are raising European citizens' and businesses' awareness on the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law should also be borne in mind.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements.

EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding. 

 

Finland

http://www.formin.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=309088&nodeid=15145&contentlan=2&culture=en-US

The European Union and its member states are raising European citizens' and businesses' awareness on the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law should also be borne in mind.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements.

EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding.

 

France

http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/conseils-par-pays/israel-territoires-palestiniens-12265/

Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurement and other economic activities in colonies or benefiting the settlements, incur legal and economic risks because under international law Israeli settlements are built on occupied territories and are not recognised as part of the territory of Israel. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

 

Germany

http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Aussenpolitik/Laender/Laenderinfos/PalaestinensischeGebiete/Wirtschaft_node.html

The federal government distinguishes strictly between the territory of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In doing so, the Federal Government bases the borders of the Israeli state on the 5 June 1967 Green Line. This also applies to Jerusalem.

http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Aussenpolitik/Laender/Laenderinfos/Israel/Wirtschaft_node.html   

The Palestinian Territories (East Jerusalem, West Jordan and Gaza) and the Golan have been occupied by Israel since 1967. The federal government distinguishes strictly between the territory of the State of Israel and the occupied territories. The Israeli government distinguishes between the territories that fall under Israeli sovereignty (Golan and East Jerusalem, which, by Israeli annexation, are an integral part of Israel and under their full sovereignty) and the non-annexed territories (West Bank and Gaza).

Settlements

It is the long standing position of the European Union and its Member States not to accept any changes to the 1967 borders, which have not been agreed between the conflict parties. Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are also contrary to international law, a hindrance to peace and a threat to the foundations of the two-state solution.

There are therefore considerable risks with regard to economic and financial activities in and for settlements. Financial transactions, investment, purchasing and procurement, as well as other economic activities (including tourism and other sectors of the service sector) in or for the benefit of Israeli settlements result in legal and economic risks resulting from the establishment of Israeli settlements. From the perspective of international law these are not recognized as a legitimate part of the Israeli territory. German companies and private individuals should also be aware of the possible reputational risks associated with economic and financial activities in and for settlements. The Federal Government also points to the possibility of violations of international humanitarian law and of human rights conventions related to settlements in the occupied territories.

For reasons of consumer protection, products manufactured in settlements in the European Union may not be labelled "Israel". (Interpretative notice from the European Commission

Customs preference treatment

Goods produced in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories or in the Golan do not benefit from preferential treatment under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, on the one hand, and the State of Israel on the other (so-called ' EC-Israel Association Agreement) because these goods do not originate in Israel. However, importation of goods is not subject to any specific import restrictions. This was confirmed in a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in a preliminary ruling procedure on 25.02.2010. The case related to products that had been produced in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Press release of the ECJ on the Brita judgment

Property acquisition / investment

In the case of property acquisition and investment in the Occupied Territories, particularly in the Israeli settlements, it should be noted that a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement could have an impact. Among other things, there may be disputes regarding the acquisition of land, water, mineral and other natural resources. The Foreign Office does not take sides in the disputes.

The Federal Government promotes projects and project partners in publicly funded programs only if they are within the territory which was already under Israeli jurisdiction before 5 June 1967. This practice is in line with EU funding guidelines for cooperation with Israel.

 

Ireland

https://www.dfa.ie/our-role-policies/international-priorities/middle-east-and-north-africa/opt-ivestment-advice/

The government offers the general public and, in particular, Irish companies and businesses, of the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements. The government states that it does not encourage or support such enterprises.

Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory.

This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Irish citizens and businesses should be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals. Any person or company contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

The government also wishes to reiterate its long-standing policy of complete opposition to any form of boycott directed against Israel as well as its continued strong commitment to promoting trade and business ties with Israel to the full.

 

Italy

http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Approfondimenti/2014/06/20140627_insediamenticittadiniimpreseUe.htm?LANG=EN

The European Union and its member states are raising European citizens' and businesses' awareness on the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law should also be borne in mind.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements.

EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding.

 

Latvia

http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/Jaunumi/zinas/2014/julijs/04-3/

The European Union and its member states are increasing the awareness of European citizens and enterprises relating to the risks associated with financial and economic activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchasing, procurement, as well as other economic activities (including services such as tourism) in Israeli settlements form a legal and economic risks. According to international law, Israeli settlements have been established on occupied land and are not recognized as a legitimate part of Israeli territory. This can result in disputes over rights to land, water, minerals and other natural resources that could be the subject of purchases or investments.

Possible violations of international law humanitarian law and human rights should also be borne in mind.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a peace agreement in the future – between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and Syria – could have an effect on the properties that they have purchased, or economic activities which they carry out in these settlements. In case of disputes, it will not be easy for member states to ensure the protection of their interests at the national level.

Also, EU citizens and companies should be aware of the potential reputational impact of involvement in financial and economic activities in settlements.

EU citizens and businesses that intend to engage in economic or financial activities in settlements, should first seek out adequate legal advice.

 

Luxembourg

http://www.gouvernement.lu/3827655/03-activites-eco-colonies-israeliennes

The European Union and its member states are raising awareness among European businesses and citizens to the risks of financial and economic activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, acquisitions and other economic activities (including tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements incur economic and legal risks arising from the fact that, under international law, Israeli settlements are developed on occupied territory and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israeli territory. This can result in disputes over rights to building, water, mineral resources and other natural resources that can be the subject of purchases or investments.

Potential implications for corporate reputations should also be taken into account as well as possible violations of international humanitarian law and the law on human rights.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for their rights to the property they buy and economic activities they engage in with the settlements. In the case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

Companies and EU citizens should also be aware of the potential implications, in terms of their reputation, that could arise from their participation in economic and financial activities in the settlements.

Companies and EU citizens contemplating financial or economic interest in the settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before taking any steps.

 

Malta

http://foreignaffairs.gov.mt/en/Pages/Travel%20Advice/Israel.aspx

The European Union and its member states are raising European citizens' and businesses' awareness on the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in. Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law should also be borne in mind.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could impact their rights to property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements.  EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding.

 

The Netherlands

https://zoek.officielebekendmakingen.nl/kst-23432-348.pdf

The Dutch government discourages economic relations between Dutch firms and businesses in settlements in the occupied territories. Dutch government institutions do not provide services to any businesses established in Israeli settlements. The Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv advises Dutch firms on the international law implications of doing business in occupied territories. Dutch firms will, where necessary, be held to account.

 

Portugal

http://www.portugal.gov.pt/media/1465190/20140630%20mne%20ue%20colonatos%20isrealitas.pdf

The EU and its member states call to the attention of their citizens and companies the risks that they are exposed to by engaging in economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, acquisitions, contracts and other economic activities (including

services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements entail economic and legal risks. These arise from the fact that, under international law, settlements are built in the occupied territories and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israeli territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights should also be taken into account.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for the properties they acquire or economic activities they promote in the settlements. In case of any dispute, it may be very difficult for member states to ensure protection of their interests.

European citizens and businesses must also be aware of the possible reputational implications of engaging in economic and financial activities in the settlements.

Citizens and European companies wishing to engage in economic or financial activities in the settlements must first seek appropriate legal advice.

 

Slovenia

http://www.mzz.gov.si/si/predstavnistva_po_svetu/azija_kavkaz_in_bliznji_vzhod/izrael/

The EU and its member states call to the attention of their citizens and companies the risks that they are exposed to by engaging in economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurement, as well as other economic activities (including services such as tourism) in Israeli settlements, or which would benefit them, contain legal and economic risks arising from the fact that, under international law, the Israeli settlements are built on occupied territory and not recognised as a legitimate part of Israeli territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

It is necessary to take into account the possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and Palestine or Israel and Syria could have repercussions on the acquired ownership or economic activity in these areas. In case of disputes, it would be very difficult for member states to ensure the protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businessmen should also be aware of the potential implications for their reputation, in case of cooperation with the settlements.

 

Spain

http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/PoliticaExteriorCooperacion/OrienteProximoMagreb/Documents/MENSAJES_SOBRE_INVERSIONES_ASENTAMIENTOS_ESP.pdf

The European Union and its member states want to draw the attention of their citizens and businesses to the risks associated with economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, procurement, contracting, and other economic activities (including services such as tourism) or in Israeli settlements that will benefit them, pose legal and economic risks derived from the fact that Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied territory are not recognized as a legitimate part of the territory of Israel. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

Possible violations of international Humanitarian Law and Human Rights should also be taken into account.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for those who have acquired properties as well as economic activities promoted in such settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for member states to ensure the protection of their interests.

Citizens and EU companies should also be aware of the potential implications for their reputation in participating in economic and financial activities in the settlements.

Citizens and EU companies that include some form of economic or financial activity in the settlements must, before proceeding, procure suitable legal advice.

 

United Kingdom

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/overseas-business-risk-palestinian-territories/overseas-business-risk-the-occupied-palestinian-territories

There are clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and the government does not encourage or offer support such activity. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in. EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals. Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has introduced voluntary guidelines to enable produce from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories to be specifically labelled as such. See Defra’s technical advice on the labelling of produce grown in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Products produced in Israeli settlements are not entitled to benefit from preferential tariff treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The European Commission has published a revised Notice to Importers (see OJ C 232 page 5) concerning imports from Israel into the Union, including a revised list of non-eligible locations.

The UK government is deeply committed to promoting trade and business ties with Israel and strongly opposes boycotts.

This guidance is in line with the EU Common Messages aimed at raising awareness among EU citizens and businesses regarding involvement in financial and economic activities in the settlements below, to which the UK fully subscribes.

The European Union and its member states consider that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. The EU and its member states will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements. In case of disputes, it could be very difficult for Member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements. Possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law should also be borne in mind.

EU citizens and businesses contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice before proceeding.

 

Sweden

http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/10036/a/114919

The EU and Sweden believe that the existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem is a violation of international law. Therefore, products from Israeli settlements are not handled as if they were from Israel. Sweden has offered a much more detailed business advisory compared to other member states.

There is no ban on trade in products from the settlements, but according to the Association Agreement between the EU and Israel, the EU and Sweden have an obligation to ensure that settlement products do not benefit from preferential tariff measures that are otherwise applicable to Israeli products. A judgment of the European Court of Justice in February 2010 (the “Brita” case) confirms this demarcation of Israel based on the 1967 borders.

According to a technical agreement between the EU and Israel, Israeli products are labelled with the postal code of the place of production. On entry into an EU country the postal code is controlled, and products from the settlements are subject to the tariff generally applied to imports to the EU from third countries. Both the EU Commission and individual EU countries have made regular checks to ensure that these tariff rules are followed.

In Sweden, it is the Swedish Customs authority that is responsible for such checks. The Customs' website provides a list of those Israeli postal codes that do not give preferential treatment given that they come from the settlements. Customs Administration urges Companies that import from Israel to regularly consult this list.

Origin labelling for settlement goods in Swedish shops

There are common EU rules on origin and labelling that say that information to consumers must not be false or misleading. In the case of Israel and Palestine, there has been a demand from various stakeholders, including consumers in the EU, for clearer guidance on how products can and should be marked so as not to mislead consumers. Demand for clearer guidance has specifically applied to the labelling of products from Israeli settlements.

In 2012, the EU foreign ministers and member states committed themselves to the full and effective implementation of EU legislation relating to products from Israeli settlements. The practice is to apply this principle of differentiation between Israel within its internationally recognised 1967 borders and the illegal settlements.

For many foods and all cosmetic products labelling of origin is mandatory. For other foods indicating their origin is obligatory if failure to do so would mislead consumers. Moreover, the EU ruled that its food law aims to protect consumer interests and opportunities to make informed decisions about the food they consume.

On 12 November 2015, the European Commission published guidelines, or an "interpretative notice" relating to the origin of products from territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. The aim is to clarify and to help EU importers correctly apply existing legislation in the consumer area. Clarifying when and how a product can or must be marked strengthens the ability of consumers to make informed purchases. If products from Israeli settlements in occupied territory are marketed as products from Israel, this is misleading according to EU regulations and therefore not acceptable. The trader has a duty to ensure that the current rules are applied. Supervision is handled by the relevant authorities.

The EU countries that previously published national guidelines for labelling of products from Israeli-occupied territories have not noticed any negative impact on trade volumes. On the contrary, there are signs that clearer consumer information may have contributed to an increase in imports from Israel, at least in the case of the UK. 

Company operations and investments in settlements

EU member states have decided to publish common messages that aim to raise awareness among citizens and businesses in the EU regarding participation in financial and economic activities in the settlements. The jointly agreed text reads as follows:

The European Union and its member states consider that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make impossible a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU and its member states will not recognise any change to the 1967 borders other than those agreed between the parties. This also applies to Jerusalem. The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are the areas occupied by Israel since 1967.

The European Union and its member states will therefore increase European citizens and enterprises' awareness of the risks associated with economic and financial activities in the settlements. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, contracts and other economic activities (also in tourism and other services) in Israeli settlements or for the benefit of Israeli settlements, are associated with legal and financial risks since under international law the Israeli settlements are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a rightful part of Israeli territory. This may result in disputed titles to land, water, mineral or other natural resources purchased or invested in.

It is also important to consider possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.

Prospective buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they support in these settlements. In the event of a dispute, it can be very difficult for member states to ensure national protection of their interests.

Citizens and businesses in the EU should also be aware that their reputation could be affected if they are involved in economic and financial activities in the settlements.

Citizens and businesses in the EU considering to participate in the economic or financial settlements should seek legal advice before taking any action.

EU guidelines for cooperation with Israel

From 1 January 2014 the EU has specific guidelines in place for its cooperation with Israel ("Guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards"). The guidelines implement the EU's long-standing policy on Israeli settlements and apply the principle of differentiation. This means that only Israeli entities established or operating within the 1967 borders can apply for EU funds.

The guidelines cover regional and local Israeli authorities, state and private companies and NGOs. Individuals are exempt and guidelines do not apply to exports or public procurement. Some examples of EU programs affected by this are Erasmus for All, Mondus Erasmus, Tempus, the EU’s research program Horizon 2020 and the European Instrument for Human Rights.

Dialogue on Boycott

Sometimes voices arise calling for the boycott of Israel and Israeli goods. The government's position is that restrictions on trade are not an appropriate way to resolve the conflict. The government wants to maintain good relations with both Israel and Palestine and works for more exchanges in a number of areas, including trade, with both countries.

Read more on: The Middle East and North Africa,Israel / Palestine

Latest from ECFR

ECFR Podcasts

Our experts and eminent guests talk about Europe’s role in the world. Subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud.

comments powered by Disqus