Israeli, European Union reps meet over research program

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Representatives of Israel and the European Union met to negotiate Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 research and development program.

The discussions Wednesday centered on drafting a Memorandum of Understanding which details the rules and procedures for Israel’s participation in the prestigious program.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the outset of the meeting, Israeli representatives said that Israel “views with gravity the internal guidelines adopted by the European Commission regarding the territorial extension of agreements with Israel.”

The Israeli representatives said they hoped that a way could be found to reach “positive understandings on the guidelines’ implementation.”

“It was emphasized that, should such understandings not be reached, Israel will be unable to join the European R&D program,” according to the statement.

Israel has taken part in the EU program since 1996 and its contribution over the years has been “highly appreciated” by European research institutions and companies, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The European Commission last month announced new guidelines making Israeli entities and activities in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights ineligible for EU grants and prizes.

The guidelines are a follow-up to a decision made by the foreign ministers of EU member states at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Dec. 10 in which they said that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the European Union must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”