The Commercial Department in the Israeli Mission to the EU is in charge of enhancing the trade relationship and the technological cooperation between Israel and the EU, monitoring legislation initiatives and programs that impact Israeli industry, and working with EU institution to solve trade disputes.
The EU formulates hundreds of legislative initiatives and programs and the Commercial Department monitors those who might impact Israeli industries, and is actively engaged in working with companies, organizations and various government departments to provide useful information.
Main issues in which the Commercial Department is involved:
Israel and the EU had agreed to assemble a forum of industry leaders that will provide a framework for enhancing commercial ties on the overall European level. From the European side the head of the Forum will be the head of the Axel Springer group, and from the Israeli side it will be the Hi-Tech entrepreneur Mr. Yussi Vardi. After recruiting industry leaders from both sides the forum is scheduled to meet for the first time in Israel under the auspices of the Israeli Industry, Trade & Labor Minister and the European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry.
Israel has been demanding for years to sign a mutual standardization agreement with the EU. After some changes in EU policy and as part of encompassing the issue in the Barcelona Agreement and the ENP Action Plan, the discussions on the basic requirements for the Agreement have reached an advanced stage. However, there is still work to do before reaching an Agreement, which will be sector specific. Israel has so far requested to include the sectors of pressure vessels, medical equipment and medicine GMP.
Dispute Settlement Mechanism
The association agreement mentions the issue of conflict resolution but only very briefly and not specifically and without outlining the relevant procedures. The commercial department is working to reach a new Dispute Settlement Mechanism that will be specific to the commercial field. During the last year negotiations have taken place on the formulation of an agreed upon mechanism in the multilateral level (European – Mediterranean.). It is expected that towards the end of 2007 the negotiations will move on to the bilateral level until an agreement will be reached.
The EU is very interested in enhancing the negotiations in the field of trade in services and the right of Establishment for companies in all sectors. The intention is to implement article 29 of the Association Agreement, but the main motive for the negotiations is the belief that it is possible to reach an agreement in this issue which will be beneficial to Mediterranean countries – this based on a survey by the World Bank which reached just such a conclusion.
During the last year negotiations have taken place regarding the formulation of such an agreement in the multilateral level together with other Mediterranean countries. So far the negotiation deals only with the framework of the agreement and not with the sector specific benefits. Even these negotiations are moving slowly, though, based on many disagreement that have arisen. It is expected that towards the end of 2007 the negotiations will move on to the bilateral level and that after the meeting of the trade ministers in October 2007 the negotiations regarding the specific benefits will start.
Israel hopes to reach a mutual recognition agreement in order to save Israeli companies the need to do so themselves. This seems currently relevant especially in the field of public tenders in which there is a plan to move exclusively to electronic purchasing.
R&D Framework Program
Israel is a member of the R&D Framework Program of the EU, and is the only Mediterranean country with such a status. The agreement concerning Israel's participation in the 7th framework program was signed in initials in Feb 2007. The 7th program will be spread out over 7 years (2007-2013) and will enjoy a budget that is 40% larger then previous programs (7.4 Billion Euro for 7 years).
In addition, Israel is hoping to join the CIP program, which is a new program which focuses on encouraging entrepreneurship and competition with an overall budget of 3.6 Billion Euro (2007-2013). Israel hopes to join the program by the end of 2007.
Israel joined the program in 2004 being one out of two non European countries who are members of the program (the second one is China).
Participation in the program enabled some Israeli companies to participate in European Space Agency tenders for developing parts of the Galileo system.
Israel regards its membership in the program as strategic importance of developing ties with Europe in these fields.
Israel expects to open negotiations with the commission regarding participation in the new Agency (GSA) in the summer of 2007. The GSA is the governing body which will monitor the system and will decide upon the nature of future versions
SESAR is a large scale project aimed to upgrade ATM (air traffic management) systems throughout the EU, Switzerland and the EEA countries. This project will include development and research in the field of command and control systems which will include satellites, unmanned aircraft, and sophisticated telecommunication systems.
Israel has recently decided to join the project as a consortium of Israeli companies under the management of the Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor. This means Israel will strive to join the Joint Undertaking which will manage the project development phase. Israel hopes to open negotiations about joining the program towards mid 2007.
Israel is following closely the recent developments in EU policy which might adversely affect some of its leading export sectors.
The main issue is the new REACH Directive which deals with new registration and licensing requirements.
Other issues which concerns the Israeli Industry in the field of environmental protection including the disposal of electronic products and the transfer of hazardous materials.
The EU Environmental policies are getting more and more severe and complex making it very difficult for small companies to cope with the costs of registration and licensing for their products in order to export them to the EU countries.
Commercial Affairs Attaché
Mission of Israel to the EU