Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

EU-Israel talks fail to agree on science funding

EU and Israeli negotiators in Brussels on Thursday (12 September) failed to agree on new funding rules, but identified "options" on making them easier for Israel to swallow.

The talks, involving dozens of officials and diplomats from both sides, centred on Israel's participation in Horizon 2020.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Neurons: staying out of EU science projects would harm Israel, the petition says (Photo: wellcome images)

The EU's €80 billion science scheme runs from 1 January 2014 for seven years.

But Israel has said it will not take part under new rules, published in July, which oblige its firms and institutions to sign documents saying EU money will not fund activity on occupied land.

The European Commission noted on Thursday that "each side will go back to consult and check the various options discussed today," with a view to holding more talks "as soon as possible."

An earlier meeting between EU and Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem on Tuesday also failed to reach agreement.

But an EU spokeswoman said the Jerusalem talks were "fruitful" and that both sides "expressed their willingness to find solutions."

For his part, the Greek ambassador to Israel, Spiros Lampridis, told Israeli daily the Jerusalem Post he sympathises with his host country.

"If I put myself in the Israeli shoes I can see why they are not able to sign it … our task as European states is to find alternatives to make this thing workable," he said.

Israel has lobbied EU foreign ministries and the US state department to make Brussels postpone the measures.

It says it cannot sign EU grant papers saying East Jerusalem, for example, is part of Palestine at the same time as negotiating final borders with Palestine in ongoing peace talks.

US secretary of state John Kerry urged EU ministers at a meeting in Vilnius last Saturday to put off the rules.

But his appeal had limited impact.

When EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton briefed ambassadors in the EU's political and security committee in Brussels on Monday, "she said there is no suggestion of changing the EU's policy," an EU diplomat told this website.

The EU estimates that 0.3 percent, or €2.5 million, of the €800-million-or-so it paid to Israel in 2007 to 2013 funded settler activity.

But under old rules it has no way to claim the money back even though it violates the EU position on Israel's borders.

Meanwhile, Israeli opinion is split on the subject.

In July, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We will not accept any external dictates regarding borders."

But on Wednesday over 600 Israeli intellectuals, former officials and activists, including Netanyahu's sister-in-law Ofra Ben-Artzi, sent a petition to EU officials urging them not to give way.

They said Israel's threat to stay out of Horizon 2020 is a "tactical manoeuvre," which would be "to Israel’s own great detriment" if it follows through.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  2. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  3. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  4. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  5. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  6. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  7. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  8. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  9. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  10. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  11. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security
  12. ACCAThe Future of Audit Means Adaption to Today’s Global and Digital World