Prime Minister Yair Lapid, today led the convening of the EU-Israel Association Council.
The Prime Minister's Office stated: "This historic meeting represents a diplomatic breakthrough that will strengthen Israel’s standing, and recognizes Israel’s importance and value on both a regional and global level. Additionally, this meeting will contribute to the expansion of economic-diplomatic ties between Israel and the EU, and the advancing of bilateral cooperation in trade, climate, energy, water technology, digitalization, cyber, and health. These steps will greatly benefit the citizens of Israel when it comes to lowering the cost of living, strengthening the economy, agriculture, and tourism."
The meeting will also advance a series of projects: Supporting Israeli companies and their partnership in ventures with European funding, the signing of a “data roaming" agreement that will dramatically reduce communications costs, and agreements that will enable the export of organic agricultural products to Europe and will adopt standards that will lower the prices of the products.
As part of the meeting, Israel and the EU exchanged statements. The Israeli statement emphasizes that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and that Jerusalem is its eternal and undivided capital.
Participating in the meeting were EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Josep Borrell and the foreign ministers of additional countries. Also participating were the Cypriot Defense Minister and the Irish Minister for European Affairs among others. Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern represented the Government of Israel in Brussels, and will continue leading the Israeli delegation in diplomatic discussions at the meeting.
Prime Minister Lapid thanked the Government of the Czech Republic, which is currently serving as President of the European Council, for leading the meeting.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Lapid said: "Over a year ago, when we formed the new government in Israel, I set several foreign policy goals. One of the most important was improving our political and economic ties with the European Union. The EU is Israel's main trading partner, but we share more than just economic interests."
"This is the forum that will allow us to advance economic ties between Israel and the EU, and strengthen our fight to lower the cost of living, in both Israel and Europe. This Council has not convened in over a decade — for the wrong reasons.
"The fact that we are convening it now corrects an historic mistake. It is an important milestone in our improving relations. This past year has seen some vast progress in our ties — and there is still so much more that we can do," Lapid said.