Nederland og Frankrike slutter seg til gruppen av 13 EU-land som vil innføre et sanksjonsregime mot varer produsert på Vestbredden.
EUs forhold til Israel er merkelig. Søndag ratifiserte Israel Open Skies-avtalen med EU. På den annen side vil en gruppe EU-innland innføre boikott.
Foreign ministers from the group – which also includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the UK – put forward their ideas in a letter to EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton on 11 April.
The text – seen by EUobserver – says they «welcome [Ashton’s] commitment to work with fellow [EU] commissioners to prepare EU-wide guidelines on the labelling of settlement produce.»
It notes that: «the correct labelling of products is necessary to ensure our consumers are not being misled by false information.»
In a sign the letter is more than just rhetoric, the ministers pledged «effective implementation» of existing EU laws and promised to «circulate» Ashton’s previous appeal on labelling «to our [other] ministries and enforcement bodies.»
Ashton in an internal note on 22 February urged all EU countries to undertake «full and effective enforcement of EU labelling legislation in the case of Israel.»
The EU legislation stems from various directives on trade and retail standards dating back more than 12 years.
Ashton’s officials and the European Commission are preparing a non-binding EU code of conduct on how to apply the rules.
They showed a first draft to member states’ diplomats on 17 January.
EU officials earlier told EUobserver that a code on settler-produced food will be ready in mid-2013. They said a code covering all exports, including wine and cosmetics, could take much longer, however.
Denmark and the UK already have labelling regimes.
Most of the other countries in the group-of-13 are also known for taking a tough line on Israel. But the addition of France and the Netherlands is a new development.
The Netherlands used to be Israel’s firm ally in Brussels. But The Hague switched sides after the arrival of Israeli-critical foreign minister Frans Timmermans in a new coalition government last November.
Meanwhile, former French and Dutch VIPs signed a separate letter last week to Ashton complaining about «stagnation» in the peace process.
They said Israel’s support for settlers indicates «a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights.»
They called for «a clear and concerted effort to counter the erasing of the 1967 lines» and said «later generations will see it as unforgivable that we Europeans … took no action to remedy the continuing destruction of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.»
The signatories include former French PM Lionel Jospin, one-time French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine, former Dutch leader Andreas Van Agt and Dutch ex-foreign-minister Hans Van den Broek.
Two of Ashton’s EU predecessors – Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner – also signed.