Brussels – 03 October 2022 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute warmly welcomes that the EU-Israel Association Council, last convened in 2012, was finally held today in Brussels.
“The AJC Transatlantic Institute has long advocated for reconvening the Association Council with Israel for the mutual benefit of both sides. Deepening the relationship with the Jewish state, the only true democracy in the Middle East and a technological and military powerhouse, ought to be a strategic priority for Europe,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the Brussels-based EU Office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “We hope that the Association Council will now be held again annually as originally foreseen. It is simply unfathomable that it was put on hold for so long, even more so considering the challenges the world currently faces, whether it is the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the global energy crises. These challenges should push likeminded democracies to work closer together against anti-Western forces,” Schwammenthal added.
The meeting was chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and attended by EU Foreign Ministers as well as Israeli Minister of Intelligence Elazar Stern. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid addressed the Association Council via video conference. The discussion covered a broad range of topics of cooperation, including trade, climate change, energy, science and technology, culture, the respect for human rights and democratic principles, freedom of religion as well as the fight against antisemitism.
Israel and the EU signed an Association Agreement in 1995, which established the legal framework for the bilateral relations. The Association Agreement was ratified in 2000 and foresees annual meetings at the ministerial level, which last took place in July 2012.
In July 2022, 158 Members of the European Parliament from six political groups sent an open letter to the European Commission urging it to reconvene the Association Council. This effort was spearheaded by MEP Antonio López-Istúriz White, Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, and signed by 36 members of the AJC-backed Transatlantic Friends of Israel. A week later the EU announced that it had decided to relaunch the Association Council.