Israel and the European Union on Monday signed a cooperation agreement on research and development in the fields of energy and water, during EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s visit in Israel.
Energy and Water Resources Ministry Chief Scientist Dr. Shlomo Wald and European Commission Joint Research Centre Director Dominique Ristori signed for Israel and the EU, respectively.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after talks with Barroso: "I think this is a very important milestone in the progression of development between us. Israel is a technological country. Europe is our main trading partner. Europe is an advanced society; we're an advanced society. We're in a decade, in a century of innovations and the more we cooperate, the more it will benefit our societies."
"We are now going to witness the signature of this important agreement, because it is also in one of the most important fields for Israel and European Union cooperation – scientific research and the technological field. I'm looking forward to deepening our good cooperation between Israel and the European Union in all fields," said Barroso, who is in Israel and the Palestinian territories for a three-day visit that began Sunday with meetings in the Ramallah with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Salam Fayyad..
President Barroso emphasized the close nature of the bilateral relations, both from a political and economic point of view, with the EU remaining Israel's main trading partner accounting for 30% of overall trade.
During their talks, Netanyahu and Barroso also discussed Iran’s nuclear programme.
The two leaders "discussed the importance of expanding cooperation between Israel and Europe in all areas, Iran's effort to arm itself with nuclear weapons and the resumption of the peace talks with the Palestinians," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.
According to an EU statement, the two leaders also discussed the regional situation with President Barroso stating the EU's support for democratic change and political and economic reforms in the wider neighbourhood.
He expressed his deep concern with the deterioration of the situation in Syria and the need for a peaceful political transition, in accordance with the Annan Plan, including an immediate cessation of violence.
They also discussed vital threats in the region and exchanged views on the on-going diplomatic process aimed at solving the nuclear issue on Iran.
President Barroso called for an early resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in order to advance the Middle East Peace Process.
"I took this occasion to express the European Union's commitment to Israel, to Israel living in peace. We are, as you know, in favor of a two-state solution. I really think it's a good moment to restart some hope regarding the Middle East peace process," he stated.