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I have read the article you recently published claiming that "Europeans stuck another nail in the cosmetics coffin – the Government’s initiative to increase the parallel importation of cosmetics was rejected by the European Union” dated 20 December 2018. I would like to give your readers a few more elements to have a clearer picture as the report contained a number of inaccuracies.
Over the past few years the EU has been engaging with the competent Israeli authorities, including the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Health, to offer support to the legislative process to establish a new regulatory framework in the cosmetic sector, reflecting EU best practices in this area. This engagement continues to date. Thus, the EU side has provided detailed and substantive comments on the successive Israeli draft legislative texts submitted for notification in the WTO. The EU representative also attended the public hearing organized by the competent Committee in the Knesset to present EU’s position, as a contribution to the effort to align the Israeli legislation to international best practices. Also - responding to a request by the Israeli authorities - in October 2017 the EU Delegation in Israel organized a study visit to Brussels for Israeli experts from the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Health: they could see in detail how the EU regulates the cosmetic sector.
Indeed, Israel requested to become a full participant to the EU’s internal information and warning system concerning the cosmetic (and other relevant) sectors. However, as we have made it clear from the outset, our legislation provides that the full participation is reserved to members of the European Economic Area – which is: the European Union Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. This is due to technical and administrative reasons, in order to ensure the system’s optimal effectiveness. No exception can be done for third countries, be it Israel or any other country. The warning system, nevertheless, allows for a certain degree of information sharing and Israel is well aware of that. Also, the EU has always offered Israel to hold regular exchanges on such issues to come as close as possible to Israeli demands and address these concerns.
Finally it should be also recalled that the European Commission spends several million Euros annually to share European best practices with the competent Israeli authorities if they so request. This takes place mainly in the forms of expert workshops locally or study visit in Europe (TAIEX) or of so called Twinning programmes whereby European experts spend a few months at an Israeli ministry assisting policy design and implementation in a given professional area. These programmes are increasingly popular among Israeli authorities including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Telecommunication, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environmental Protection etc. So this could be an avenue that the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Health may also wish to also explore concerning the reform of the cosmetic sector. The EU remains committed to continue cooperating with Israel in developing the right regulatory framework allowing our economies to maintain a high level of integration which is of obvious mutual benefit.
By Emanuele Giaufret, EU Ambassador to Israel
Published in Hebrew in Calcalist on 11 January 2019