Horizon Europe Israel Success

21.10.21

Editorial Note

On October 15, the European Commission announced it had negotiated with Israel the Horizon Europe deal. The “objective” now is to “sign the agreement before the end of the year.”  In an op-ed last month, Yair Lapid, Israel’s Foreign Minister, disclosed that “The European Union is about to sign with us another wide-ranging economic/technology pact, Horizon Europe, which will last until 2027.” 

The next Horizon Europe for Research and Innovation is the program for the years 2021-2027. It provides support to top researchers and innovators to ensure a green, healthy and resilient Europe. The program includes three main pillars:   

Pillar 1 – European Research Council (ERC) for economic and social challenges. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) for science and knowledge.  

Pillar 2 – for collaborative research on technological and industrial capacities on global challenges. Health cluster on the coronavirus pandemic, virology, vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, for public health policy measures. Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society for research and innovation in the cultural and creative sectors in humanities and arts. Civil Security for Society on EU policy priorities relating to security, including cybersecurity, and disaster risk reduction and resilience. Digital Industry and Space cluster on digital, industrial and space technologies. Climate, Energy and Mobility cluster for climate-related domains. Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture And Environment cluster addresses the natural resource base, resilient biodiversity and ecosystem services.   

Pillar 3 – The European Innovation Council (EIC) will receive over €10 billion to support emerging and breakthrough innovations by small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, and midcaps, for building regional ecosystems.    

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the EU-Israel collaboration in research & innovation. Since 1996, some 5,000 research contracts have been signed as part of this cooperation. Israel-based projects received a total of €1.36 billion during the previous program Horizon 2020. Israeli programs will be eligible for grants from a global budget of some €95 billion in the upcoming Horizon Europe.   

Israeli institutions of higher learning received the following grants during Horizon 2020, between 2014 to 2020: Weizmann Institute 214,1M; Tel Aviv University 176,8M; The Hebrew University 168,52M; Technion 120,02M; Bar Ilan University 48,96M; Ben Gurion University 44,31M; University of Haifa 16,94M; IDC 7,83M. 

Not all Israeli academics are happy with this achievement.  Prof. Raphael Greenberg, TAU archaeologist who opposes EU funds to the University of Ariel, and who is part of a group of academics critical of Israeli settlement, said in an interview that the “depth of Israeli EU cooperation in things like biomedicine and AI trumps any attempt to hold Israel politically accountable.” Prof. Ofer Aharony, a physicist from the Weizmann Institute who, likewise, opposes Ariel University, said in the interview, “I do not think that the EU could have put more pressure on Israel on settlement issues using the Horizon Europe agreement, there are enough people in the government (less than in the previous government, but still enough) that would prefer to leave the Horizon program than to change Israel’s settlement policy.”  

To recall, in March 2021, some 500 academics signed a letter calling on Brussels to keep Ariel University out of EU research projects. Some of them were interviewed. Amiram Goldblum, professor emeritus of molecular modeling and drug design at the Hebrew University, complained that Ariel University is not recognized by international law. Outi Bat-El Foux, professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University, said, “As a person who was born and raised in Israel, and cares about its future, the existence of the city of Ariel and its academic institution undermine the foundation of Israel and its people.” Ofer Aharony said he is “strongly opposed to Israel’s policy of establishing settlements in the West Bank. I view such settlements as illegal under international law and I am not willing to do anything to assist them.” Aharony added that his opinion was “a minority view in Israel; most Israelis support the settlement at least to some extent, though there is probably also a small majority that would support dismantling some settlements if and when a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed.” Raphael Greenberg said, “Many of our colleagues in Israel and Europe appear to accept the normalization of the Ariel institution as an Israeli research university. By insisting that the EU stand by its own principles, we wish to protect our institutions and remind our colleagues that legitimacy is hard to attain and easy to lose.”

On July 22, 2021, as IAM reported, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECC Palestine) published a letter by 160 beneficiaries of EU research funding. The letter urged the European Commission to prohibit the disbursement of European research funds to all Israeli institutions, which the letter identified as “complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.” In particular, the letter urged “to amend Horizon 2020 policy guidelines… to exclude all Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in Israel’s grave violations of international law from Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, and all EU Research Framework Programs until they abide by international law and human rights and cease their collaboration and systematic complicity in Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.” 

These radical cohorts have never admitted that the Palestinians bear responsibility for their sad state of affairs, as they rejected the best offers to end the conflict and initiated terrorism and bloody Intifadas.  The Islamists who de facto control the Palestinians, and their patron Iran, had made it clear time after time that nothing short of destroying Israel would satisfy them. 

Horizon Europe is hugely important to both Israel and the EU.  Pro-Palestinian academic activists who have struggled endlessly to delegitimize Israel and hamper its scientific achievements have found another target.   It bears repeating that some of them are Israelis whom the taxpayers support. 

 References:

https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/european-commission-concludes-formal-negotiations-horizon-europe-association-israel-2021-oct-15_da
The European Commission concludes formal negotiations on Horizon Europe association with Israel
NEWS 15 October 2021 Brussels, Belgium Research and Innovation

On 9 October 2021, the European Commission (EC), represented by the Horizon Europe Chief Negotiator Signe Ratso, concluded the formal negotiations with Israel on its association to Horizon Europe. The process to formalise the agreement has been launched and the objective is to sign the agreement before the end of the year.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the EU-Israel successful collaboration in research & innovation. It dates back to 1996 when Israel first associated to the EU 4th Framework Programme for Research. Since then, and in view of shared concerns and common goals, this cooperation has been consistently evolving generating win-win benefits along the way. In return to giving Israel access to a vast international research network, the European Research Area has benefited from Israel’s high levels of excellence as well as outstanding innovation capacity. Joint research efforts have resulted in many success stories across different thematic priorities for the EU including climate change, public health, safe transportation etc.
Association to Horizon Europe is the closest form of cooperation in research & Innovation with non-EU countries. It is marked by joint projects and mutual access to a wider pool of excellence, innovation and research infrastructures.More informationInternational cooperation with Israel

The European Union (EU) and Israel have a long history of successful scientific and technological cooperation. The Association Agreement, signed in Brussels on 20 November 1995 and having entered into force in June 2000, provides the legal framework for EU-Israel relations. It establishes a regular dialogue on scientific, technological, cultural, audio-visual and social matters. Israel is also part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan, ten sub-committees were established, including one on research, innovation, information society, education and culture.

Israel has been associated to the EU’s research and innovation framework programmes since 1996. The agreement on Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020 was signed on 8 June 2014. 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the country’s association the framework programmes. The celebrations started in Israel in January 2016 and concluded with a festive conference in January 2017. Israel also has a number of agreements with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Horizon 2020 key figures
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https://sciencebusiness.net/news/commission-completes-horizon-negotiations-israel-rare-association-success

Commission completes Horizon negotiations with Israel in rare association success

19 Oct 2021 | News

With the UK and Switzerland still not confirmed, research associations have welcomed Israel into the Horizon Europe fold. But some see it as missed opportunity to apply pressure over West Bank settlementBy David Matthews

The EU has wrapped up Horizon Europe negotiations with Israel and hopes to sign it up as an associated country before the end of the year, despite pressure from pro-Palestinian academics and objections in Brussels to the country’s settlement policies.

While the association was expected, the breakthrough comes as uncertainty clouds the status of the UK and Switzerland, two other major potential partners of the research framework.

On 15 October, the Commission announced that it had concluded formal negotiations with Israel and has the “objective” to “sign the agreement before the end of the year”.

While the news has been welcomed by European science organisations some critics of Israel see it as a missed opportunity for Brussels to extract concessions in other areas.  

“It’s crucial that the EU keeps collaborating with its closest neighbours with outstanding R&I capacity,” said Mathilde Reumaux, senior policy officer at Science Europe, which represents national R&D funding agencies. “Accordingly, the formalisation of this association is good news.”

“However, Science Europe regrets that the negotiations with the UK and Switzerland, two of our closest partners, remain deadlocked,” she said.

In the spring, the Commission proposed internally that Israel, along with the UK and Switzerland, be locked out of sensitive Horizon Europe projects in quantum computing and space.  

But after pushback from member states and an internal assessment, the Commission is now thought to favour Israel joining quantum projects, although not space calls.

“We had to do this process, but I’m not surprised that we reached a positive note,” said Tal David, head of the Israel National Quantum Initiative. “We are happy to continue the many years of collaboration…and to compete for funds,” he said.

Although Israeli participation in framework programmes dates back to 1996, there have been periodic calls from academics to limit Israel’s access to EU research schemes, in response to the state’s settlement of the occupied West Bank, or military incursions into the Gaza Strip.

In March this year, more than 500 academics signed a letter calling on Brussels to keep Ariel University – an Israeli institution built in the occupied West Bank – out of EU research projects. Despite stipulations in Horizon 2020, the letter said Ariel appeared to have been listed as a partner in at least one project. Ariel told Science|Business at the time that the involvement was “inconsequential” and amounted to no more than the participation of a researcher in an online event.  

Some academics have gone even further. In July, 160 recipients of EU research funding called for the blanket exclusion of “all Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in Israel’s grave violations of international law”, saying Israeli universities were guilty of what they called Israel’s “structural violence perpetrated against Palestinians”.

Preconditions

Although the terms of the new association agreement are not yet known, they are likely once again to mirror previous preconditions and exclude institutions like Ariel that the EU considers to be on illegally settled land, said Hugh Lovatt, an Israel-Palestine specialist at the Europe Council on Foreign Relations.

During the negotiations for Horizon 2020, these conditions caused a diplomatic row, with the Israeli government initially refusing to sign up to them, although it eventually backed down, he said.

Brussels has continued to “flirt” internally with the prospect of withholding research partnership in order to challenge Israeli settlement activity, he said. “This has however never extended beyond internal non-papers and generally vague diplomatic warnings.”

Academics critical of Israeli settlement are more blunt. Raphael Greenberg, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University who is publicly opposed to Ariel receiving EU funds, said that the “depth of Israeli EU cooperation in things like biomedicine and AI trumps any attempt to hold Israel politically accountable.”

But it is unclear whether Brussels threatening to withhold Horizon Europe association would have achieved anything diplomatically.

“I do not think that the EU could have put more pressure on Israel on settlement issues using the Horizon Europe agreement, there are enough people in the government (less than in the previous government, but still enough) that would prefer to leave the Horizon programme than to change Israel’s settlement policy,” said Ofer Aharony, a theoretical physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, another signatory of the Ariel letter.  

Despite the Commission’s announcement last week, Israeli state research institutions appear to have remained quiet about the end of formal negotiations, forgoing public announcements. Science|Business did not receive a comment from Israel’s mission to the EU.

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https://www.jpost.com/jpost-tech/israel-reaches-agreement-with-eu-on-r-and-d-funding-682313
Israel reaches agreement with EU on R&D funding

The agreement between Israel and the EU for the seven-year Horizon Europe program should be signed before the end of the year.

By ZEV STUB   OCTOBER 18, 2021 16:17

Israel is set to sign an agreement with Horizon Europe, the largest research and innovation program of its kind in the EU, the European Commission said Monday.
The agreement for the seven-year program should be signed before the end of the year. Once it is signed, Israeli programs will be eligible for a wide variety of grants from a project with a global budget of more than €95 billion (NIS 355b.).
Horizon Europe offers the closest form of cooperation in research and innovation with non-EU countries. It is marked by joint projects and mutual access to a wider pool of excellence, innovation and research infrastructure.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the successful EU-Israel collaboration in research and innovation. This cooperation has been consistently evolving, generating win-win benefits along the way.
In exchange for giving Israel access to a vast international research network, the European Research Area has benefited from Israel’s high level of excellence and its outstanding innovation capacity.
A European Union flag flies outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 19, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
Since 1996, about 5,000 research contracts have been signed as part of the cooperation. Israel-based projects received a total of €1.36b. in funding within the framework of the Horizon 2020 program, which just ended.
Joint research efforts have yielded successes in many fields, including climate change, public health and safe transportation.

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First non-EU countries associated to Horizon Europe

Sunday, 26 September 2021

The European Commission announced on Friday that Iceland and Norway are the first countries to have become formally associated to Horizon Europe, enabling entities in those two countries to participate in Europe’s €95.5 billion research and innovation programme, under the same conditions as entities from EU member states.

Horizon Europe is an opportunity for EU member states and associated non-EU countries to continue and deepen cooperation in science, research and innovation, focusing on common priorities: the twin green and digital transition, public health and Europe’s competitiveness in the global landscape.

A spokesperson for the Commission explained that both Iceland and Norway are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and do not have to sign a separate agreement with the EU but only a technical amendment to the EEA agreement.  Switzerland, another EEA member and dominant contributor to the EU budget, has not yet finalised the negotiations.

Negotiations with more non-EU countries that are associated or have expressed interest to become associated to Horizon Europe are still on-going and further announcements will be made in the coming weeks, the spokesperson said. The majority of the associated countries are candidate and neighbourhood countries.

According to an audit report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) last April, the task of managing the financial contributions to the EU budget from non-EU countries to gain access to EU programmes such as the R&D programme Horizon is beset with risks and based on a diverse system of arrangements.

In fact, Kosovo was the first country in completing the Horizon Europe Association Negotiations but the signature will only take place after the national ratification and after the Commission has completed its internal procedures. This is expected in happen in November and only then the Agreement will enter into force.

The spokesperson added that 11 countries have finalised the negotiations: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Remaining countries are Canada, Israel, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Morocco, and Faroe Islands.

The spokesperson declined to reply to a question if political issues were delaying the negotiations with some of these countries. This happened in the past with Israel, a dominant contributor to Horizon with a high success rate (12.8 % in Horizon 2020), because of differences about funding to entities located across the 1967 borders (the Green Line).

A compromise solution was found where Israel accepted EU’s position that such entities are not eligible for EU funding while sticking to its own position about the borders. A source in the Commission told The Brussels Times that the EU and Israel are still in the negotiation phase and that negotiations are progressing well, with a view to closing them with the shortest delay.

The optimism is shared by Israel’s new minister of foreign affairs, Yair Lapid, who last week wrote an op-ed stating that “the EU is about to sign with us another wide-ranging economic technology pact, Horizon Europe.”

In practice a delay in the signature will not have any effect. Applicants can apply for funding in the calls already published or in the pipeline the coming months although no agreement has been signed yet with the associated country concerned, provided that the Horizon Europe association agreement applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

M. Apelblat
The Brussels Times
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https://www.innovationisrael.org.il/ISERD/program/horizon-europe

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the 9th European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for the years 2021-2027.
Horizon Europe will promote excellence and provide support to top researchers and innovators to  ensure a green, healthy and resilient Europe.

The programme is an evolution from Horizon Europe and will include three main pillars:
 
Pillar 1 – will include the following programs – 

Pillar 2 – will support collaborative research relating to societal challenges and also reinforces technological and industrial capacities through thematic clusters that address the full spectrum of global challenges. The second pillar will include the following clusters: 

  • Health cluster will tackle challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic, the extension of clinical trials, innovative protective measures, virology, vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, and the translation of research findings into public health policy measures.
  • Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society will support research and innovation in the cultural and creative sectors, cultural heritage, through building cultural heritage collaborative space, as well as in humanities and arts. 
  • Civil Security for Society – ill support the implementation of EU policy priorities relating to security, including cybersecurity, and disaster risk reduction and resilience. In addition, it will build on lessons learnt from the COVID 19 crisis both in terms of preparedness and capacity building for crises.
  • Digital Industry and Space cluster  will strengthen European capacity in central digital, industrial and space technologies, and support a competitive, digitised and circular European industry. 
  • Climate, Energy and Mobility cluster will scale up R&I resources in climate-related domains
  • Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture And Environment cluster addresses the interlinked challenges of safeguarding the natural resource base, resilient biodiversity and ecosystem services, restoring and sustaining the health of our planet, sustainable agricultural, forest, marine and fresh water production, promoting alternatives to fossil-based economies, sustainable consumption, closing nutrient cycles, and food and nutrition security.

The European missions is a new instrument that will  be introduced as part of pillar 2. It will focus on ambitious, time-bound and achievable goals to deliver on common European goals.  The five missions that were approved will aim at achieving by 2030, 3 million lives saved from cancer diseases, 100 climate neutral cities, healthy oceans, seas and internal waters, healthy soils and food, and regions resilient to climate changes.

In addition, a number of European Partnerships will encourage wide participation of partners from public and private sectors, covering critical areas such as energy, transport, biodiversity, health, food and circularity.


Pillar 3  – The European Innovation Council (EIC) . The EIC, will receive over €10 billion in budget to provide support for emerging and breakthrough innovations by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, and midcaps. It will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) –  building eecosystems by connecting with regional and national innovation actors.

And A Section called ‘Widening participation and Strengthening the European Research Area’.

Horizon Europe will increase its impact by working closely together with other EU programmes and policies, such as InvestEU, Erasmus+, EU Cohesion Policy, Digital Europe, European Structural and Investment Funds, Connecting Europe Facility, and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2021-2024 will guide the development of work programmes in the covered period.

For Horizon Europe Novelties click here

For Horizon Europe orientation presentation

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https://sciencebusiness.net/news/over-500-academics-call-eu-keep-israels-ariel-university-out-research-projects

Over 500 academics call on EU to keep Israel’s Ariel University out of research projects

25 Mar 2021 | News

Ariel University, located in a settlement on the West Bank, should have no involvement in EU-funded projects researchers say, as the university denies one of its professors received EU fundingBy Éanna Kelly

Over 500 academics from more than 20 European countries and Israel on Wednesday published an open letter condemning any involvement of Israel’s Ariel University in EU-funded research projects.

The university is located in the West Bank, an area Palestinians seek for their future state. The EU and most of the international community views permanent settlements on this land as illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

The letter notes “with grave concern the ongoing failure of the European Union to ensure that its taxpayer-funded research programmes are not used to legitimise or otherwise sustain the establishment and the activities of Israeli academic institutions in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).”

According to participation rules for Horizon 2020, the EU’s most recent science programme, Israeli entities may only receive grants from EU programmes if the projects concerned do not take place in settlements occupied by Israel since 1967. The Commission says “all its projects are closely monitored” and undergo a “rigorous ethical evaluation”.

The letter says that Ariel University hosted a dissemination event for the BOUNCE project in June 2020. In addition, a professor from Ariel University is listed as a co-researcher on the project, “raising serious questions as to whether research activities were carried out in the OPT,” the letter says.

Ariel University is also listed as involved in the Horizon 2020 earth observation project GEO-CRADLE, the letter notes.

The academics allege that, “multiple cases demonstrate failures of the Commission to properly instruct against, monitor for, and rectify project management transgressions against these EU positions.”

“The EU must and can do better,” the letter states. “At a time when the EU is finalising Horizon 2020’s successor, the €100 billion Horizon Europe programme, we urge the EU Commission, Parliament and Council to devise, fund and implement the effective monitoring of participating research projects and hold transgressors accountable.”

In response to the letter, Nicole Greenspan, head of international research and public relations at Ariel University said, “The inconsequential issue raised is that of the participation of a single Ariel University professor in an online event. The researcher is not funded by the EU.”

Sampling soil in the Occupied Territories

In January 2020, Green MEP Gina Dowding asked the Commission to account for Ariel University’s participation in GEO-CRADLE.

EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel responded by saying Horizon 2020 projects are being closely monitored by the Commission services and that this includes a rigorous ethical evaluation.

“In the GEO-CRADLE proposal there was no indication that the Tel Aviv University, one of the partners, intended to take soil samples in occupied territories or cooperate with stakeholders in these areas. Once the violation was detected, the Commission immediately took action, recalling the rules to the coordinator, who instructed Tel Aviv University to stop cooperation with Ariel University and Golan Heights Winery.”

Soil samples collected from the settlements were excluded from the research, Gabriel said, adding, “Costs claimed for these activities and the subsequent rectification were considered not eligible and therefore not covered by EU funding.”

The European Commission has been contacted for additional comment.

‘Political letter’

According to Greenspan, “Ariel University is an institution recognised by the Israeli Council for Higher Education. Its students and researchers hail from all segments of the population with no regard to nationality or religion. The university is actively involved in research to better the entire region including both Israeli and Palestinian communities around it.”

“Ariel University holds the mixing of research with politics to be abhorrent as do all serious researchers. The use of academic titles and affiliations should not be used to legitimise people’s personal political opinions. This letter, despite being undersigned by people from academia, is not an academic letter. It is a purely political one,” Greenspan said.

Since it was established in 2012, Ariel University’s presence in the West Bank has repeatedly stirred controversy, with some Israeli academics and the Palestinians coming out against the institution over the years.

Last year, the Trump administration lifted a decades-old ban that had prohibited US taxpayer funding of Israeli scientific research conducted in settlements in the West Bank territory, drawing Palestinian condemnation. Ariel was chosen as the venue for a ceremony marking a new scientific and technology cooperation accord with the US.

Signatories speak

Science|Business spoke to four Israeli scientists who signed the letter.

Amiram Goldblum, professor emeritus of molecular modeling and drug design at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, complained that Ariel University is not recognised by international law.

Outi Bat-El Foux, professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University said, “As a person who was born and raised in Israel, and cares about its future, the existence of the city of Ariel and its academic institution undermine the foundation of Israel and its people.”

Ofer Aharony, a theoretical physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, said he is “strongly opposed to Israel’s policy of establishing settlements in the West Bank. I view such settlements as illegal under international law and I am not willing to do anything to assist them.”

Aharony added that his opinion was “a minority view in Israel; most Israelis support the settlement at least to some extent, though there is probably also a small majority that would support dismantling some settlements if and when a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed.”

Raphael Greenberg, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, said, “Many of our colleagues in Israel and Europe appear to accept the normalisation of the Ariel institution as an Israeli research university. By insisting that the EU stand by its own principles, we wish to protect our institutions and remind our colleagues that legitimacy is hard to attain and easy to lose.”

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