Vienna, 25 February 2021 - "The fight against the pandemic and the relaunch of the economy and the labour market are certainly the priority topics of the video conference of the EU heads of state and government today and tomorrow. I welcome the foresight of the EU Council President Charles Michel to also put foreign policy – and especially the relationship with our southern neighbours – on the agenda,” said Lukas Mandl, foreign policy and security spokesman for the Austrian People’s Party in the European Parliament and chairman of the cross-party Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) in the European Parliament.
“An important focus must be on intensifying and making more concrete our cooperation with Israel, our most important ally and the only democracy in the Middle East. That is crucial for the security situation not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and to defend our common values. Furthermore, cooperation with Israel is central for innovation and production, for prosperity and future opportunities. Israel is the state with the most start-ups per capita", said Mandl ahead of today’s online meeting of EU heads of state and government.
"I never tire of stressing how important it is to finally convene a joint Association Council with Israel and subsequently to expand the Association Agreement and thus deepen the formal cooperation with Israel. The Council has not met since 2012. It is increasingly beyond comprehension why we are leaving our strategic and natural ally waiting in the anteroom for so long", said Mandl. "I have therefore submitted a formal parliamentary question to the Council in order to receive a binding answer regarding the preparation and implementation of this long overdue project."
"I am pleased that Austria is setting a good example here and that, on the initiative of Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, my home country has been working on a deeper agreement between Israel and Austria since last summer. I expect the EU heads of state and government to take Austria as an example and work on this constructively. After the very welcome announcement by EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi in autumn that he wanted to convene a new Association Council with Israel, action must now follow", concluded Mandl.