Jerusalem, 5 April 2000

Finance and Industry Ministers Meet EU External Affairs Commissioner

(Communicated by Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Trade Spokesmen)

Finance Minister Avraham Shohat and Industry and Trade Minister Ran Cohen today (Wednesday), 5.4.2000, met European Union Commissioner for External Relations Christopher Patten to discuss deepening Israeli-EU economic relations.

Finance Minister Shohat briefed Commissioner Patten on the peace process, with a focus on economic relations. He and Minister Cohen emphasized the need to determine rules of joint origin for products from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in the spirit of the EU’s Essen Declaration, which was intended to enhance Israel’s special status with the EU. This will boost the regional economy and the peace process.

Industry and Trade Minister Cohen also appealed to Commissioner Patten for the EU to encourage the participation of Israeli firms in EU regional projects under the Barcelona framework. He suggested bilateral Israeli-EU talks between senior private sector officials in key industrial sectors. He stated that Israel wishes to be included in pan-European production systems as a supplier of components. He also suggested establishing tripartite R&D and cooperation projects, like the TRIDE, between Israel, the EU, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Commissioner Patten reiterated the need to realize the economic dialogue and the integration of Israel in the Barcelona process, given that Israel, in contrast to its neighbors, is a developed country. He stated that the EU is closely following developments in the peace process and that the EU is deeply interested in contributing to it. One of the ways the EU can do so is through regional cooperation. He also stated the EU’s desire to make progress on issues of mutual recognition and standards, which would facilitate exports to the EU.