The EU has issued tepid statements in response to the recent 11-day crisis in Palestine, ignoring the violence perpetrated by Israeli authorities. This post suggests that the EU’s silence is consistent with the positions of the Member States and the EU’s established policy but does not sit well with its alleged “values”.
The crisis in Palestine has sparked reactions across the globe. Some actors have energetically condemned Israel’s actions; before the 21 May ceasefire, the Tunisian foreign minister, e.g., “called on ending the savage Israeli aggression on the occupied Palestinian territories and the besieged Gaza Strip”. Others have sided with Israel; the US, in particular, stressed its “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself”.
The European Union largely followed the US approach. The statements of EU leaders stigmatised the violence perpetrated by Hamas but not the abuses conducted, on a larger scale, by Israeli authorities (see below, section 1). The silence of EU institutions is unsurprising, since it is consistent with the priorities of its Member States (section 2), the EU’s established policy (section 3) and the pragmatic character of the EU’s external relations: the Union often preaches its “values” but seldom practices them (section 4).
On 4 March 2021, Italy decided to block a shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine that was destined for Australia. This remarkable move, notably made in response to AstraZeneca’s delay in providing the agreed doses of vaccines by the set deadlines, is the first of its kind since the Union introduced rules concerning the possibilities to limit exports of vaccines outside of the EU. Under the EU’s export scheme currently in place, companies are required to receive an explicit export authorization from national authorities where their Covid-19 jabs are produced before exporting them out of the EU. In turn, before adopting a decision on the matter, national authorities are obliged to send the draft measure to the European Commission, which may overturn the authorities’ decision.
On 16th July 2020, in its landmark judgment in Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Limited, Maximillian Schrems (Case C- 311/18, Schrems II), the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) invalidated the Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/1250 on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-US Privacy Shield (“the Privacy Shield Decision”). As a result, thousands of companies can no longer rely on the Privacy Shield Decision as a legal basis for transferring personal data from the EU to the US. In its judgment, the ECJ also affirmed the validity of Standard Contractual Clauses (“SCCs”) as a data transfer mechanism for international data transfers, but with a few conditions: companies are required to assess the data importer’s ability to comply with the contractual arrangements embedded in SCCs and adduce «additional safeguards» where appropriate. The implications of the case are much wider than just the invalidation of the Privacy Shield Decision. The judgment has important implications on the other tools that compose the data transfer toolbox offered by the GDPR and has raised uncertainties on the future of international data transfer more broadly.
KNOCK ON WOOD. IL CONTENZIOSO UE/UCRAINA SUL DIVIETO DI ESPORTAZIONE DI LEGNAME TRA TUTELA AMBIENTALE E LIBERA CIRCOLAZIONE DELLE MERCI
Il 20 giugno 2019 l’Unione europea, constatata l’impossibilità di giungere a una soluzione mutuamente accettabile mediante la fase conciliativa già avviata il 15 gennaio 2019, ha attivato per la prima volta la fase contenziosa del sistema di soluzione delle controversie contemplato nell’Accordo di associazione con l’Ucraina e chiesto, quindi, la costituzione di un panel di esperti volto a verificare la compatibilità, con l’Accordo stesso, delle misure di restrizione all’esportazione di varie tipologie di legname non trattato adottate dalla controparte.