EU mulls reducing Israeli access to European R&D program

European Parliament delegation with MasterCard Israel country manager Andras Hemberger  photo: PR

Since 1996, Israel has benefited from associate membership of European Framework Programs.

The EU plans to reduce access for Israeli companies and research institutes to budgets under the Horizon Europe program (the continuation of Horizon 2020), which is currently under discussion in the European Parliament. The background to the move is the desire to concentrate innovation efforts on European soil.

Nevertheless, a delegation of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who visited Israel last week told "Globes" that they intended to support Israel's request not to have its involvement in the new program reduced. This followed efforts at persuasion and pressure by the Israeli side.

The Horizon 2020 program is the eighth European Framework Program for Research and Development. It has a budget of €77 billion spread over seven years. Israel pays some €1 billion into the program, and receives support for R&D projects to the tune of €1.5 billion. The program has become one of the growth engines of R&D in Israeli industry and of basic scientific research in Israeli academic institutions. Besides money, the programme offers possibilities of collaboration with European companies and research institutions, and direct ties with the European market for products and technologies. Israel is an associate member of the program, like Switzerland and Norway, which are not EU member states.

Thirteen members of the European Parliament took part in the delegation that came to Israel last week. The delegation visited, among other places, the Deutsche Telekom innovation lab, the Dell-EMC Israel Center of Excellence, and met Andras Hemberger, MasterCard Israel Country Manager and managers of fintech companies Endor, Stargo, Rewie, Jifiti, and Paykey. The delegation also visited the Google development center, Wix, and the Israeli National Cyber Security Authority.

The question of support for Israel's application to Horizon Europe arose in a meeting with Israel Innovation Authority officials - CEO Aharon Aharon, the head of the Authority's Growth Companies Division Sagi Dagan, and Israeli Directorate for the EU Framework Programme (ISERD) managing director Nili Shalev. "These are the people who will ultimately make the decisions in legislation, and so it was important for us talk about Israel's participation in Horizon 2020, to present the successes, the challenges, and also our concerns about the future," Shalev says.

MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij from the Netherlands, who is joint chairperson of the European Internet Forum (EIF), said he would work towards continuation of the cooperation between Europe and Israel. "Today, Europe has more reservations and hesitations about the conditions that will be set in the new legislation. But we told the Israelis that we are prepared to work on it, and I think that it would be a mistake if we were not to enable, for example, your research institutions to be partners in the EU research program."

MEP Angelika Niebler from Germany also expressed support for Israel's request to preserve the collaborative framework with the EU. "It's a win-win situation," she said.

Shalev says that Israeli representatives who have attended discussion in the EU institutions discerned an emerging trend of change in the European approach and therefore seek to influence the process before decisions become legislation. "A proposal has been submitted by the Israeli Mission to the EU to the European Parliament," Shalev says. She says she does not believe that it is a matter of preventing Israeli access to Horizon Europe, but of negotiations on the new rules. "I think this partnership is important to both sides, and both sides see it continuing, but there will be negotiations and we will look at the rules that are decided upon."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 5, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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European Parliament delegation with MasterCard Israel country manager Andras Hemberger  photo: PR
European Parliament delegation with MasterCard Israel country manager Andras Hemberger photo: PR
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