The European Parliament has voted in favour of a trade pact between Israel and the European Union that will allow easier access to medicines from both markets.
The Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) was passed after a two year delay, and will provide EU patients with access to life-saving drugs at lower cost, while boosting EU pharmaceutical exports to Israel.
There had been concerns that upgrading trade relations might undermine the EU’s condemnation of Israeli policy towards Palestinians, but 379 MEPs agreed on Tuesday that removing trade barriers will be beneficial to both constituencies.
In a statement, the European Parliament said the pact would cut manufacturers’ costs and enable to them to get their products to the market faster.
For European consumers, it will mean lower prices and a wider range of generic products.
230 MEPs voted against the pact and there were 41 abstentions.
American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute in Brussels director David Schwammenthal welcomed the news, but slated politicians for delaying the approval.
"At its core, this was not a debate on the merits of the agreement. This was about politics," said Schwammenthal. "Some Members of the European Parliament were putting their disagreements with Israel ahead of their obligations to ensure their constituents had fast access to the best and most affordable healthcare."
"Israeli pharmaceutical companies are at the cutting edge of research, developing innovative treatments that help save lives and reduce suffering."