Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank, will donate â‚¬1 million to the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in an effort to foster socioeconomic relations and understanding between Europe and Israel.
"Israel, for Europe has become a magnet for risk investments with great potential for innovation and development. But what still needs to be improved is the dialog and mutual understanding of how things are done in Europe and in Israel," said Dr. Tessen von Heydebreck, chief administrative officer and management board member of Deutsche Bank, during his first visit to Israel, hosted in cooperation with the Israel Council on Foreign Relations and the Israeli-German Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking last week at the Center for European Studies at IDC Herzliya on the economic relations between the European Union and Israel, Dr. von Heydebreck put great emphasis on the economic compatibility of Israel and Europe.
"What we are missing is the will for innovation. The European Union is bound to win more from the education exchange with Israel as the latter is building on a younger generation," he said.
The European Union is Israel's major trading partner, with annual bilateral trade having grown to â‚¬30 billion. About 40 percent of Israeli imports come from the EU and about 30% of the country's exports go out to the EU. Yet, in terms of investments to Israel, the US is still the leading force.
"Most international investment in Israel still stems from the US. This imbalance or weighting is poised to change through the EU-Israel Association free trade agreement, increasing European investments in general, and German investors in particular," Dr. von Heydebreck noted. The business dialogue with Israel was expected to be taken up in the first half of 2006, he added.
"Strengthening Israel's relationship with Europe is important to set against the new phenomenon of European intellectual boycott directed against the existence of the Jewish state," said Prof. Uriel Reichman, president and founder of IDC Herzliya.
Deutsche Bank, which has revealed its ties with the Nazis, was one of several companies, including Daimler, Dresdner Bank, and Volkswagen, that agreed to pay $5.2b. to settle lawsuits by Nazi-era forced laborers. In 1999, Deutsche Bank admitted it was involved in funding the construction of Auschwitz.