Israel finalizes tough deal with EU to join Horizon Europe

On Tuesday, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Israel and the European Union had reached an agreement regarding Jerusalem’s accession to the largest research and innovation program in the European Union.

Official talks on the Horizon Europe programme, which will allocate €95.5 billion in grants from 2021 to 2027, ended on October 9. The agreement is expected to be signed in December, once both sides complete their internal ratification process.

The agreement on Israel’s participation in the former European Research Partnership Program was initially blocked by EU directives on funding programs and companies in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The parties eventually agreed to add a clause to the Horizon 2020 agreement stating that Israel does not accept the EU’s definition of territories beyond the 1967 borders.

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A State Department spokesperson said the current Horizon Europe agreement will follow the same formula Times of Israel.

But the talks, which were due to conclude several months ago, were delayed due to a number of other issues.

The fact that three of the countries that received the most research funding under Horizon 2020 – Israel, the UK and Switzerland – are not part of the European Union has led to changes in financial agreements with non-EU-linked non-member states, such as Israel.

Switzerland does not participate in Horizon Europe at all, and EU negotiators have taken a tougher line with the UK after Brexit, meaning Israel will have to agree to a similar, less favorable deal. One condition is that once an affiliated country receives 8% more money than it has contributed, it will have to again begin contributing to the program the amount of any additional funding awarded to its researchers.

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Israel is expected to contribute at least 2.5 billion euros to the program, according to Maya Sion-Tzedkiahu, director of the Israel-Europe Relations Program at the Mitvim think-tank for foreign policy. As part of Horizon 2020, Israel received €360 million more than its contribution, it said, and it is expected to find itself in a similar situation over the next six years, assuming its researchers continue to succeed in obtaining research grants.

Left to right: European Union Ambassador to Israel Emmanuel Geoffrey, Nelly Shalev, Director General of ISERD and Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, at the 2020 Horizon Awards Gala in Jaffa, June 4, 2019 (Image source: Yossi Zamir; GPO) .

However, Sion-Tezkiahu stressed that the direct balance between Israeli investment and cash return does not reflect the strategic importance of the program for Israel: “The added value of joining the program is critical to Israel’s economy, and in the case of quantum computing, we can also talk about national security. Yield Cash is a reward, not a goal.”

Another complication of the talks has to do with access to quantum computing and space projects. The EU’s goal of “strategic autonomy” has made its members reluctant to cooperate with non-member states – including Israel – on sensitive areas of research.

After extensive negotiations, the European Union allowed Israel to participate in quantum computing research, subject to some reservations, including intellectual property, but the space agreement has not yet been finalized.

New bids for space research will be launched in 2023, and it is expected that Israel will be allowed to bid by that time.

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Although negotiations continued, Israeli researchers were allowed to respond to research bids issued this year.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said joining the Horizon program “makes Israel a central player in the largest and most important research and development program in the world.”

Il a ajouté que l’accord s’incrit dans le cadre de « la politique des connexions, en se rapprochant non seulement de l’UE, mais aussi des pays européens, et en connectant le secteur scientifique et technoël homologique en Isra the continent. “

In a statement, the European Union said: “In return for Israel’s access to a vast international research network, the European Research Area has benefited from Israel’s high levels of excellence as well as its impressive capacity for innovation. The European Union noted that joint projects with Israel have led to breakthroughs in the areas of climate change and public health. and transportation safety.

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “Israel’s commitment to this program underscores the importance it places on investing in and supporting research and development, which are key to future economic growth.”

Professor Nadav Katz is at the Center for Quantum Information Sciences at the Hebrew University. (Photo source: Yeats Wolf/The Hebrew University)

Yael Ravia Zadok, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Economic Diplomacy Division, said the deal was “a testament to European confidence in the critical nature of Israeli science, technology and innovation.”

This year’s Mitvim poll found that 47% of Israelis oppose participating in EU programs that exclude settlements – such as Horizon Europe – while only 35% support them.

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The year-long talks between Israel and the European Union were led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Israel-European Research and Development Directorate of the Israel Innovation Authority, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Science and Technology. Higher Education Council.

Israel has been a partner in the EU’s Research and Innovation Framework programs since 1996, when it joined the European Union’s fourth research programme, and was the first non-European country to join.

A total of €1.098 billion has been allocated to Israeli projects and companies under Horizon 2020.

The program has enabled Israeli companies, researchers and innovators to access European partners, integrate into a broad European research infrastructure and participate in pioneering projects, particularly in the fields of quantum technologies, graphene and brain research.

Shoshana Suleiman contributed to this article.

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