On Thursday, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), alongside Trinity Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Implementation Group (BDS) called on the public to support a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to end trade with illegal Israeli settlements. In an Instagram post, TCDSU said that this law would “send a powerful signal around the world that the EU will no longer reward territorial aggression with trade and profits”.
The ECI, which currently has over 235,000 signatures, was launched in February 2022 by Stop Settlements, a coalition of NGOs, grassroots movements, trade unions, and politicians. In particular, it calls on the European Commission to legislate for EU Common Commercial Policy to conform to EU treaties and international law.
An ECI is a mechanism which enables EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policy. It enables one million citizens who are nationals of at least seven member states to call on the European Commission to propose legislation. The European Commission is the only body within the EU with the power to initiate legislation.
On their website, Stop Settlements claim that “when occupied territory is annexed de jure or de facto, for example by means of settlements, this is against international law, and such an annexation and settlements have no legal validity. As a result, trade with such settlements is illegal”.
Commercial transactions with entities based in or operating in occupied territories will be regulated if this legislation is passed, effectively banning products originating in these territories from entering the EU single market. It does not call for a trade prohibition with these territories because “this would disallow fair trade with the peoples whose territories are being annexed or occupied”.
TCDSU has been mandated to support the BDS movement after a referendum in 2018, in which 64.5% of voters were in favour.
Last month, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) council unanimously passed a motion in motion in support of the BDS movement, mandating that the USI support local BDS branches. The USI Coiste Gnó is also mandated to call on the European Students’ Union (ESU) to re-evaluate the membership of Israel and to support potential Palestinian efforts to engage with ESU, and to boycott Israeli corporations, institutions and companies and their products which the union currently uses or has relations with.