Photo Credit:
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn at the Israeli Foreign Ministry / Copyright: MFA

Johannes Hahn, the European Commission’s Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, arrived in Israel on an official visit Monday. Hahn, an Austrian politician, previously served as European Commissioner for Regional Policy, leading the transformation of regional policy into a genuine investment policy, closely linked with EU economic governance and macro-economic conditions.

Hahn’s latest mission is to promote stability at Europe’s borders and helping neighboring countries to develop stable democratic institutions and to become more prosperous, under the European Neighborhood Policy. He also coordinates the EU’s offer of closer cooperation in areas like trade, mobility, energy, and education to create tailor-made partnerships to develop relations with each neighbor.


The purpose of the visit is to initiate a process of consultations with Israel ahead of the launch of the new Israel-EU bilateral cooperation program.

Because of its high national income, Israel is not eligible for bilateral funding under MEDA (MEsures D’Accompagnement — French for accompanying measures), which deals with problems common to the EU’s Mediterranean partners. But Israel has nevertheless been involved in a wide variety of Euro-Mediterranean regional programs funded under MEDA: young Israelis participate in youth exchange programs with their European and Mediterranean counterparts under the Euro-Med Youth Action Programme; Israeli filmmakers have benefited from funding and training under the Euro-Med Audiovisual Program; Israeli universities participate in the FEMISE forum of economic institutes while chambers of commerce and employers associations have participated in programs like UNIMED and ArchiMedes; and institutes like the Israel Antiquities Authority participate in the Euromed Cultural Heritage.

During his visit, Commissioner Hahn met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Dore Gold and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog. Commissioner Hahn also visited Israeli projects that are supported by EU funding.

In his remarks, Dir-Gen Gold stated: “Israel and the EU share a broad common denominator, which makes it possible to expand current cooperation.”

Another mission of the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is to maintain ongoing EU membership negotiations with neighboring countries, and help to prepare those countries with a membership perspective for future challenges. Israel is not one of the nine countries that are on the agenda for a future enlargement of the European Union. However, despite the fact that Israel is not geographically located in Europe, it is a member of many European transnational federations and frameworks and takes part in many European sporting events.

Like most western European countries, Israel is a member of the OECD and compares well with European Union states with its economic indicators (GDP per capita, government deficit, public debt level, current account surplus, inflation level).

In 2014, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar said Israel is needed by the European Union. Aznar submitted a report recommending that due to its Western culture and the benefits it brings the European Union, Israel should become a full member of the EU without pre-conditions.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, visiting Israel in 2010, said that his “greatest desire” was to see Israel join the European Union. The European Union’s former High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, stated in 2009 that Israel had a very significant relationship with the EU, amounting almost to full cooperation through participation in the EU’s programs. In 2012, former Bulgarian foreign minister Solomon Passy said Israel should more assertively seek to join NATO and the European Union.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articlePolish Foreign Minister to visit Yad Vashem Wednesday
Next articleArab Terrorist Convicted of Murdering US-Born Principal and 2 Israelis
David writes news at