Accueil > Rubriques > Paix et Justice - Géopolitique > A model for EU-Israel integration ! ! ! ! ! No, insult to human rights (...)

Les sionistes dans l’UE ? NON, NON et NON ! Monsieur Potocnik !(ndlr)

A model for EU-Israel integration ! ! ! ! ! No, insult to human rights !(ndlr)

By Janez Potocnik, membre de la Commission européenne

jeudi 18 janvier 2007

Wed., January 17, 2007

Israel may not be a candidate for accession to the European Union, but in the research field at least, it has many of the advantages of membership. Countries wanting to join the EU get involved in the research field far in advance of actually joining, on the same basis as several other countries, like Israel, Switzerland and Norway, which see benefits in having a close scientific relationship with Europe.

Being active in the research programs does not only mean benefiting from all aspects of the European Research Area. It is also a valuable way to understand better the technical aspects of the EU’s internal market, such as food safety standards or environmental monitoring. It can help create common markets for new technologies, where Israeli firms can get direct access to some 480 million European consumers. It brings people together - in the 12 years that Israel has been an associated member of the EU’s research family, I believe that we have come to better mutual understanding and recognition of the benefits and interest we both have to gain from such a relationship.

If we look at some of the most important challenges that lie ahead of us - climate change, energy security, health issues as our populations get older, keeping companies competitive in an increasingly global marketplace - it becomes clear that cooperation in the field of research and innovation is at the heart of our possible solutions.

If we want to develop new products and services that boost our economies, discover new drugs and therapies for the diseases that threaten our health, protect our planet and find sources of energy that are secure, limitless and non-polluting, then we need to know more and be better. Knowledge is not limited to boundaries or beliefs. We can face these challenges better when we work together, whether at a European or international level.

Research has always been an important part of the European project : It was there from the very beginning. But with the new program - the Seventh Framework Program - launched this year, we have taken a real step forward. Almost 55 billion euros (about NIS 303 billion) will be made available over seven years to researchers, companies, universities, research facilities and others. I welcome Israel’s intention to continue its status as an associated country in FP7, which will open up huge opportunities for the Israeli research community to get involved in projects with their European colleagues. The first calls for proposals were launched at the end of 2006, and are open to Israeli involvement, so I encourage those of you who can play a role to build partnerships with European researchers to develop high-quality projects that can benefit us all.

And it goes further. Whatever the challenges we are facing together, we realize that research, like anything else, is ultimately about people. This is why we put such great emphasis on making it easier for researchers to move within the EU and abroad, and for researchers to come to the EU to live a new experience. We want to make it easier for Israeli researchers to work in the EU and for Europeans to spend time in Israel. FP7 will have more than 4 billion euros (about NIS 22 billion) to support such placements within and outside Europe. We will also be looking to encourage exchanges between universities and industry. Such exchanges and fellowship provide a perfect opportunity to gain experience of another way of working, which can really enhance a researcher’s career, as well as being an enriching personal experience.

Working together, living together, having access to and an understanding of different cultures, methods and ways of life are all positive effects of our research cooperation. This approach of greater integration, which has been so successful in the research field, is also the driving force behind the EU-Israel Action Plan agreed upon in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy.

I will be visiting Israel in a few days to present the Seventh Framework Program. Under the Sixth Framework alone, Israeli research bodies have participated in more than 500 projects together with their European counterparts. I am therefore looking forward to talking to researchers and companies that have participated in previous programs, to hear directly from them what they got out of their involvement. I am very confident Israel will be as active, reliable and effective a partner in the new program as it has been in the past.

The writer is the European Commissioner for Science and Research.