Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Tale of 2 seminars

Cooperation between Israel, Europe developed significantly in recent years

At the beginning of 2005 Israel and the European Union adopted a comprehensive joint Action Plan to upgrade their relations in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy.


On December 4, 2006 the European Commission released a progress report on the achievements under the EU-Israel Action Plan so far. It found that the framework of EU-Israel relations was now better defined and that co-operation had significantly developed in the areas of political dialogue, anti-terrorism, promotion of trade and investment, justice and security and science and technology.


To get a better idea of how the European Union and Israel are using the Action Plan to exchange knowledge and best practice, let us take a quick look at two seminars, both of which took place on December 7.


In Tel Aviv, European experts contributed their experience to Israeli financial institutions and green organizations at a seminar on "Managing Environmental Risks in Financial Institutions." Meanwhile, in Brussels, Israeli and European experts held a joint seminar on the "Fight against Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism."


Other technical workshops have been organized on subjects ranging from preventing terrorist financing, to fighting trafficking in human beings.


The progress report on Israel was part of a set of proposals I made to further strengthen European Neighbourhood Policy. In Israel's case I believe that they contain even more attractive incentives to upgrade our relations: more contacts between business people, students, youth, researchers and artists; deepening economic and trade relations and stronger co-operation on energy and transport.


Israel well-positioned to reap significant benefits

Moreover, in order to help Israel to support activities under the Action Plan, it will also be eligible, for the first time, for a small amount of European Community financial assistance amounting to 14 million euro over the next seven years. Last but not least, the European Investment Bank is renewing its activities in Israel after a 10 year break and is investing 275 million euro in loans for water projects and small businesses.


The process of intensifying our relations under European Neighbourhood Policy will be a gradual one. Every few years the European Union and Israel will need to agree on a new set of joint priorities. But of the 16 countries participating in European Neighbourhood Policy, Israel is among those best placed to reap significant benefits from closer integration with the EU.


Today our joint Action Plan is out of the station and on its way. The European Union would like to make speedy progress. But the speed with which we travel together will be decided by Israel as much as by the European Union.


Back in 1994 the leaders of the European Union meeting in Essen in Germany stated that: "The European Council considers that Israel, on account of its high level of economic development, should enjoy special status in its relations with the EU on the basis of reciprocity and common interest…" 12 years later, European Neighbourhood Policy holds out an opportunity to fulfil that vision.


Benita Ferrero-Waldner – European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy


פרסום ראשון: 01.17.07, 23:48
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