A Member State can restrict trade from illegal Israeli settlements based on its enforcement role within the European Union’s (EU) legal structure. While the EU is responsible for EU-wide trade policy and maintenance of the EU customs union, enforcement of that policy is a matter for Member States. The EU has issued several guidance documents stating its position that 1) Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal; 2) goods produced in those settlements are not legally produced in Israel; 3) therefore, the trade agreements between the EU and Israel do not apply to goods produced in settlements. European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law requires that when Member States do enforce EU policy, they do so in a proportional and minimally-restrictive way. The ECJ has also held that Israeli settlement goods are not protected by the EU-Israel Association Agreement because those goods are not technically produced in Israel. Thus, a Member State is not obligated by that agreement to accept settlement goods. Accordingly, a Member State can impose a restriction on the import of Israeli settlement goods.
The attached legal brief outlines the legal basis under EU law permitting an EU Member State unilaterally prohibit the import of unlawful settlement goods.