Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso celebrated Israel’s entry to Horizon 2020, The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The ceremony, held Sunday in Jerusalem,was attended by EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen and Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, who signed the agreement for the EU and Israel, respectively.
The program has been controversial in Israel. Despite Israel’s prowess in the natural sciences, and in technology research and development, Europe threatened to exclude Israel from Horizon 2020 if the latter did not agree to boycott scientists and researchers from Judea and Samaria. Eventually, Israeli representatives capitulated: Israeli research entities on the “correct” side of the 1949 Armistice Line can apply for European loans, but Israel has committed to ensuring the money is not spent in Judea and Samaria – at least, not amongst Jews.
In real terms, this means Israeli companies or organizations seeking loans from the EU will have to maintain systems that ensure the funds are not spent amongst the “wrong” kinds of Jews.
Horizon 2020 is among the largest programs in the world for scientific and industrial cooperation; Israel will transfer approximately 140 million Euros per annum from the Science, Economy and other ministry budgets. Investments in previous EU plants have proven themselves: The relative return on Israeli investments in the plan is approximately 60%. Israel invested 535 million Euros in the seventh plan; Israeli bodies received 840 million Euros in grants, 579.5 million Euros of which were for university scientists. Under the plan, which ended last year, 1,197 projects – with the participation of 2,124 Israeli scientists from academia and industry – were approved.
To date, approximately 500 proposals with Israeli participants have been submitted. The proposals will be evaluated by September 2014 and grant agreements will be signed by the end of the year.