A series of special events taking place this week is devoted to enhancing Israel-EU relations. Some of the events are on the government level, others involve the private sector.

European and Israeli officials held a one-day forum addressing the future of EU-Israel relations.

On Sunday, senior European and Israeli officials met at a one-day forum addressing the future of EU-Israel relations. The meeting, called at the initiative of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, was arranged with the assistance and coordination of the German head of the rotating EU presidency and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The objective of the day-long event was to examine possibilities of improving relations between Israel and the European states in various fields. The forum will submit a written report by the end of the year to the European and Israeli foreign ministers, including recommendations and practical suggestions.

The Israeli delegates to the forum included many senior officials, among them the Governor of the Bank of Israel, the Director General of the Ministry of Infrastructures, the Assistant Attorney General, the Director General of the Council for Higher Education, and officials from the Ministries of Industry and Trade, Environmental Protection, Finance and Transportation, as well as representatives from the National Security Council.

The following day, Monday, saw the annual meeting of senior officials responsible for ongoing Israel-EU bilateral relations. The subjects on the agenda included renewal of the mandate for European observers at the Gaza-Egypt Rafiach crossing, and the Israeli demand that the EU continue to refrain from transferring funds directly to the Palestinian Authority government headed by Hamas. Other subjects raised at the meeting included bilateral trade, cultural exchanges, mutual research and development projects, and international legal issues. Also discussed was the new Israeli-EU Chamber of Commerce, inaugurated on Tuesday.

Starting on Tuesday, the International Organizations Division of the Foreign Ministry and the United Nations Economic Council of Europe (UNECE) organized a regional conference for experts in the field of public-private partnership initiatives. The conference, in which delegates from 56 countries in Europe, Canada and the United States are participating, is taking place in Israel on June 5-8, 2007.

"The conference is a good example of the cooperation prevailing today between Israel and the UN." -- from a Foreign Ministry statement

It is the first time that Israel is hosting such a conference together with the UNECE. In a press release, the Foreign Ministry said:

"The conference is a good example of the cooperation prevailing today between Israel and the UN, reflecting Israel's rightful place as part of the Western nations group: Europe (East and West), Canada and the US.

"Aside from the political statement, the conference showcases Israel as a leading state in the promotion of projects, especially in the field of infrastructures, carried out in partnership between the public and private sectors (PPP). This is a hot field right now in the international and UN arenas, as a leading tool for development and investment in both developed and emerging nations."

The conference's primary objective, according to organizers, is to provide Israeli companies and businessmen with the opportunity to meet European representatives interested in promoting projects in their home countries, laying the groundwork for the projects to be executed by Israeli companies.