The European Union’s new ambassador to Israel has indicated that the EU is interested in continuing its collaboration with Israel in the field of science.
The ambassador, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, made the comments during a meeting on Thursday evening with Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid).
NRG/Maariv reported that during the meeting, which took place in Tel Aviv, Perry briefed the ambassador on his Ministry’s activities in the fields of science and space technology and on Israel’s collaborations with other countries in these fields.
Faaborg-Andersen reportedly praised Israel’s activities in science and technology and recommended that the EU and Israel continue to cooperate in these areas.
According to Maariv, Faaborg-Andersen also told Perry that he would like to see Israel participating in the EU’s multi-million dollar Horizon 2020 research program.
Israel’s participation in the important program was placed under a question mark after the EU published new guidelines which boycott Israeli entities operating beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.
Israel has warned that it might shun the key EU research program unless a compromise is found over the boycotting guidelines.
Horizon 2020 aims "to de-pollute the Mediterranean by the year 2020 by tackling the sources of pollution that account for around 80% of the overall pollution of the Mediterranean Sea: municipal waste, urban waste water and industrial pollution,” the EU said when the project was announced in 2011.
Israeli green technology is a centerpiece of the project, with Israeli researchers providing numerous systems to remove pollution from the shores of Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, and northern African countries.
Israel is allocating 600 million euros to the project over the next seven years and is one of its major contributors. It has warned, however, that the EU's new policy may put the whole project in jeopardy, since at least some of the technologies Israel is contributing to the project were developed by companies and academic institutions located in Judea and Samaria and in areas of Jerusalem liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin recently warned that unless a compromise can be reached with the EU on the boycotting guidelines, Israel would risk missing out on generous funding for its scientists and Europe will lose Israeli-know how.
"If we fail to resolve this problem, the future direction will be a kind of separation between Israel and the European Union," Elkin said, adding, "We are the start-up nation. It would be a big mistake for Europe to lose its relations with Israel.”
EU officials have reportedly been visiting Israel recently in an attempt to ensure the continued cooperation between the Jewish state and the 28-nation bloc.
Israel has maintained that the EU guidelines are trying to impose new borders on Israel via trade sanctions rather than through on-going negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. In fact, Israel has said, the boycott hurts negotiations rather than promotes them.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel will not sign any contracts with Europe so long as its boycott of Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and even the Golan Heights - as per the new guidelines - continues.