Israel and Europe – cooperation in r&d

Politically, diplomatically, Israel and Europe have travelled together along a bumpy road for over 3 decades. When it comes to research and economic cooperation, the picture is one of blue skies.

Here’s an anecdote told to me by an Israeli university lecturer, who some 15 years ago participated in a meeting in Ramallah with a senior trade representative of the European Union. The Palestinian team approached their European colleague and demanded economic sanctions on Israel.

The response was simple and to the point. He told them that he was a good friend of the Palestinian cause, but sanctions are out of the question. Israel and the EU are tied together far too firmly. The cost to Europe of reversing that trend would be very heavy.

And so today. Never mind boring trade stats. That is the obvious part of the story. The EU recognises that Israel sets aside around 5% of its GDP for r&d. Europeans want to grab part of that knowledge, which is why Israel is an important member of the Seventh Framework Programme.

Examples: The Ben Gurion University in the Negev is partnering with the Medical University of Vienna to work on wound healing for the elderly. Dr Rotem Karni from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is coordinating a European project to reverse the malignancy of cancer cells.

The EU is full aware of Israel’s scientific capabilities. 6 Israeli institutions of higher education are in the world top 500. With maybe 1/1000 of the world population, Israel contributes about 1% of the articles to scientific publications – around 4th in the world per capita. 44% of these are co-authored internationally, and now almost half of that number are in partnership with European institutions.

In 2010, Israel expects to become a full member of the Bologna Process in higher education; 27 member states partnered by a similar number of external countries. The aim – to increase student mobility and to break down language barriers. 54 higher education delegations have visited Israel in the past year or so.

There are those who want to stop or boycott this process of harmony. And there is a silent group of people around Europe working hard to promote progress and engagement, which will benefit all.

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One Comment on “Israel and Europe – cooperation in r&d”

  1. Josh Wallach Says:

    The astounding stats mentioned in the article point to the real core of the sanctions issue: jealousy.


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