Political framework

The European Union and Israel share a long common history, marked by growing interdependence and cooperation. Both share the same values of democracy, a respect for freedom and rule of law and are committed to an open international economic system based on market principles. Israeli political, industrial, commercial and scientific leaders maintain close links to Europe. Over five decades of trade, cultural exchanges, political cooperation and a developed system of agreements have cemented these relations.

Israel is among the immediate neighbours of the EU included in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which offers the perspective of moving beyond cooperation to a significant degree of integration through a stake in the EU's Internal Market and the possibility for Israel to participate progressively in key aspects of EU policies and programmes. Israel was among the first wave of countries to agree on an ENP Action Plan pdf - 88 KB [88 KB] with the EU. This entered into force in April 2005 and has been extended until the middle of 2010.

The ENP Action Plan set out in more detail than the earlier EU-Israel Association Agreement pdf - 548 KB [548 KB] a comprehensive set of jointly developed priorities with a programme of specific activities to which both sides are committed. The areas for greater cooperation under the Action Plan include : upgrading political cooperation; promoting peace in the Middle East; approximating Israeli legislation to that of the EU as a way of opening the EU's Internal Market to Israel; pursuing greater liberalization of trade, services and agriculture; the fight against organized crime; cooperation in transport, energy and communications; closer links in science and technology and people-to-people contacts in education, culture and civil society.

During the implementation of the Action Plan several new agreements have been signed (trade in agricultural products, standards conformity) while others (aviation, trade in services) are under negotiation.

The implementation of the Action Plan has created an ever closer web of relations.  Ten joint sub-committees have been established that meet regularly, both in Brussels and in Jerusalem. Seminars have been held on subjects such as the fight against terrorism and the fight against racism and anti-Semitism.  Moreover, tools like TAIEX and Twinning have allowed European experts and their Israeli counterparts to share expertise and information across a wide range of fields with the aim of eventually bringing Israeli laws and regulations jointly identified by the EU and Israel in line with those of the EU.

Israel which was a signatory to the 1995 Barcelona Declaration, is also a member of the Union for the Mediterranean .

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