Brussels – 18 July 2022 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute warmly welcomes that the EU has finally decided to relaunch the Association Council with Israel, which last convened in 2012. Both sides still need to decide on the date.
“Europe and Israel, the only true democracy in the region, are bound to be close partners and allies,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Brussels-based EU Office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “Shared Western values and common interests are the hallmark of this partnership. A strong EU-Israel partnership can only benefit both sides. The Jewish state, a powerhouse in innovation, security, research and technology, would greatly benefit European citizens, helping the Continent to meet global challenges ranging from energy to food security and tackling climate change and security issues,” Schwammenthal continued.
“Holding the long-overdue Association Council has never been about a one-sided favor to the Jewish state. Instead, advancing and deepening Europe’s ties with Israel is a clear win-win situation. After President Biden’s recent visit to Israel and the historic Abraham Accords marking their two-year anniversary, it’s high-time for the 27-nation bloc to seize this positive momentum for EU-Israel bilateral relations.” Schwammenthal said.
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. However, the last ministerial talks were held in 2012 and have not been reconvened since. The blockage was driven by the opposition of certain member countries.
AJC has long urged governments and diplomats to resume the Association Council with Israel.
A week ago, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, whose country holds the rotating EU Presidency, reiterated that reconvening the EU-Israel Association Council was a priority for his country and confirmed there is positive momentum among EU member states to reconvene the Association Council. In 2020, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi stated his support for reconvening the Association Council. During her visit to Israel last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined the importance to deepen bilateral ties, based on shared values and history, in order to tackle global challenges. Earlier this year, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde declared that there was broad support among EU foreign ministers for resuming the Council.