The Ministry of Foreign affairs is leading an inter-ministerial working group tasked with upgrading Israel’s relations with the European Union.

In preparation for the conference of the Israel-EU Association Council to be held in Brussels on 5 March 2007 with the participation of Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, the Ministry of Foreign affairs is leading an inter-ministerial working group tasked with upgrading Israel’s relations with the European Union. This project has been initiated with the cooperation of the National Security Council and the participation of representatives of government ministries, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

A meeting discussing possible models for such an upgrade was held today (5 February) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The recommendations will be discussed by directors-general of the ministries concerned prior to presenting them to the government for approval.

The background to this workgroup is the increased involvement of the European Union in Middle Eastern affairs as well as the mutual interest in promoting political, economic, cultural and social relations. This issue is central to the agenda of the German EU presidency, which began in January 2007, with the declared aim of promoting the European Neighbourhood Policy. The European Commission is also dedicated to promoting this policy, and has recently published proposals to strengthen it. These proposals include, among others, the possibility of opening EU programs and agencies to Israeli participation.