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Barroso hails EU-Israel cooperation in innovation and research

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has said he is committed to strengthening the EU-Israel partnership cooperation in education, research and innovation, singling out collaboration in these areas as "one of the biggest achievements of our partnership".
 
The comments came in a speech at Haifa University on 10 July, where Barroso received an honorary doctorate.
 
He said Israel and the EU had built a dynamic relationship, based on shared values, as well as solid bonds of history and kinship, "Every day we work together for our mutual benefit on a wide range of issues, from agreements recently signed by Israel with the European Space Agency to cooperation of a number of EU agencies with their Israeli counterparts," the European Commission president said.
 
Economic ties ran deep, he said, pointing out that EU was Israel's first trading partner, with total trade last year amounting to €29.4 billion.
 
But Barroso singled out cooperation in science, research and technology: "This is certainly one of the biggest achievements of our partnership. A continent such as Europe, that invests heavily in innovation, needs to have close links with a 'start-up nation', like Israel." He said Israel was one of the most successful non-EU member states to be associated to the current European Framework Programme for Research (FP7), with Haifa University alone claiming over 25 projects funded in the 7th RTD Framework programme, but also in educational projects under the TEMPUS programme.
 
Israel is currently participating in over 800 EU RTD Framework Programme projects in fields ranging from cutting edge research through nanotechnology and information and communication technology to energy and health. This makes the EU Israel's second biggest source of public research funding after the Israel Science Foundation.
 
Barroso said the EU was committed to investment in innovation, research and education, telling his audience that with the future 'Horizon 2020' research funding programme, the European Commission had proposed an €80 billion Research and Innovation package for 2014-2020, an increase of 46% on the current programme.
 
"I welcome the interest expressed by Israel in this programme," he said, adding: "We should prepare the ground and, once the legal basis for Israel's participation in EU programmes is in place, we can negotiate Israel's association to 'Horizon 2020'."
 
"We can also do more regarding Israel's participation in educational programmes such as 'Erasmus Mundus' and 'Jean Monnet'. In the future, the 'Erasmus for all' programme will have a strong international dimension, in particular in higher education and youth, and will give a privileged place to neighbouring countries, such as Israel."
 
Recently published figures show that three Israeli universities – the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (4th), the Weizmann Institute (8th), and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (12th) – appear in a list of 18 higher education institutions, which host at least 20 European Research Council (ERC) grantees. The ERC is a flagship component of the 'Ideas Programme' of the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). ERC grants are awarded through open competition to projects headed by starting and established researchers – with the sole criterion of scientific excellence.
 
Barroso was speaking one day after the EU and Israel July signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deepen their scientific cooperation in the fields of energy, with a particular focus on clean energy, and water desalination. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
 
Read more
 
Barroso speech
 
EU Delegation Facebook page – Israeli universities excel in attaining European Research Council grants
 
EU Delegation press release – JRC and Israel Ministry for Energy and Water Resources strengthen scientific cooperation
 
EU-Israel scientific cooperation
 
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre press pack – Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Partner Countries: towards a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space
 
EU Delegation Israel
 

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