Israel’s cooperation in the Horizon 2020 program, the European Union’s Framework Program for Research and Innovation, officially launched on Monday, making Israel eligible to compete for €77 billion worth of industrial research grants over seven years.
Israel’s participation in the program hit several road bumps after the EU published guidelines in July that would bar any funds going to ventures located beyond the Green Line, including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
In the end, the two sides “agreed to disagree,” with Israel publishing its reservations in an appendix.
Avi Hasson, the chief scientist, said the collaboration was “very important.”
“This cooperation, through the Horizon 2020 program, does not just bring Israel funding to leverage the field of research and development, but allows us to be part of the international arena of present and future science and technology,” he said.
“The EU budget, which will be given as grants in Israel, allows us to take part in international research, cooperate with a variety of researchers in Europe and advance innovation with practical implications.”
Corporations, academic institutions, non-profits, start-ups and private ventures will be eligible to apply for grants in a variety of fields.
Israel’s official entry into the program comes amidst increased talk of European boycotts and the effect they would have on Israel, should peace talks with the Palestinians failed.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, last Wednesday, even went as far as to suggest that the EU would consider scrapping its Association Agreement with Israel – the main legal document defining Israeli-EU economic relations – which would eliminate Israel’s ability to participate in programs such as Horizon 2020.
The EU has denied it is considering such actions.