At a time when Europe’s 27 member states have been unable to adopt a common position on the recognition of Palestine, the European parliament has approved a draft agreement of the European Council to open European markets to Palestinian agricultural produce from 2012, reports La Vanguardia. The Barcelona daily explains that until now, Palestinian goods have remained “under the strict control” of Israeli customs authorities. According to the terms of the agreement concluded with the Palestinian Authority, “agricultural produce and fish from Gaza and the West Bank will now have tariff-free, and, for the most part, quota-free access to European markets.” The parties to the agreement “will also be obliged to respect European rules on the sourcing of products: the EU takes the view that the occupied territories are part of Palestine, and not part of Israel.” As a result, “Israeli companies established in the occupied territories will no longer be able to circumvent a system” that currently allows them to include their products in quotas that feature in the trade agreement between the EU and Israel, points out La Vanguardia. The newspaper notes that Palestinian exports to the EU were worth 6.1 million euros in 2009, while EU exports to Palestine were worth 50.5 million euros.
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