Israel and the European Union signed the Horizon 2020 association agreement on Sunday, giving Israel the same access to EU research and innovation as that enjoyed by EU member states.
The agreement was signed by Lars Faaborg-Andersen, head of the EU delegation to Israel, and Minister of Science, Technology and Space Yaakov Perry. Witnessing the signing were the EU Commission’s President José Manuel Barroso and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With a total budget of nearly 80 billion euros over seven years, Horizon 2020 is the largest-ever EU research and innovation program and one of the biggest in the world.
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Israel has been associated with EU research and innovation programs since 1996. During the previous program (2007-13,) Israeli public and private institutions participated in over 1,500 projects.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Barroso said: "Israel is a strong player in research and innovation and for this reason an important partner for the EU to address societal challenges of common concern, such as ageing, food safety, environment protection or cleaner energy, and to strengthen the competitiveness of our industries. I am pleased that we are signing the agreement today since it reflects the mutual importance we attach to cooperation and partnership in research and innovation."
Israel's participation in the new program was threatened late last year by a dispute over the EU's insistence that no funding be used by institutions, communities or individuals beyond the Green Line. The dispute was finally settled in November, when Israel agreed to abide by the new EU guidelines.