Israel and the European Union signed a key agreement, Horizon 2020, on Sunday, marking the beginning of a unprecedented partnership agreement for the funding of scientific research and innovation.
During a visit to Israel, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Science, Technology and Space Yaakov Perry to sign and finalize the agreement that will secure €80 billion ($109 billion) in funding over seven years for grants in scientific research and technological innovation. The Horizon 2020 program is part of the EU’s Framework Program for Research and Innovation and Israel is reportedly the first non-European country to gain access to a program traditionally limited to EU Member States and Associated Countries. In return for joining the program, Israel will contribute to the Horizon 2020 budget for grant funding.
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President Barroso stated: “Israel is a strong player in research and innovation and for this reason an important partner for the EU to address societal challenges of common concern, such as aging, food safety, environment protection or cleaner energy, and to strengthen the competitiveness of our industries. I am pleased that we are signing the agreement today since it reflects the mutual importance we attach to cooperation and partnership in research and innovation.”
With more than four percent of the country’s GDP devoted to investments in civilian research and development in the fields of science, medicine, technology and the environment, Israel is sure to make a strong partner for EU cooperation and will shift the focus from more traditional research to innovation and disruptive technology.
While Israel has been associated with EU research and innovation programs since 1996, the new Horizon 2020 agreement, once it is ratified by Israel, will allow Israeli researchers and innovators to take a more active role in all of the activities with their EU and international partners. The current Horizon 2020 agreement, with a budget of over €80 billion, is the largest ever EU research and innovation program and one of the biggest in the world.
Israel’s involvement in Horizon 2020 was put in jeopardy last year when the EU published guidelines that prohibited EU support to Israeli projects based in settlements. But in November 2013, Israel and the EU were able to agree on a final working document.
Photo: European Commission