We must finally convene the Association Council with Israel again / Crucial for security and economy in Europe / Signal from EU summit welcome
Vienna – “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 that foreign policy and especially the relationship with our southern neighbours is also on the agenda. An important focus must be on intensifying and concretising cooperation with Israel, our most important ally and the only democracy in the Middle East. That is crucial for security not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and for the representation of our common values. Furthermore, the 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”, says Lukas Mandl, foreign policy and security spokesman for the Austrian People’s Party in the European Parliament and chairman of the non-partisan Transatlantic Friends Of Israel (TFI) in the European Parliament, before the online meeting of EU heads of state and government, which begins today, Thursday.
“I never tire of stressing how important it is to finally convene a joint Association Council with Israel and subsequently to deepen the Association Agreement and thus formal cooperation with Israel. The Council has not met since 2012. It is increasingly beyond comprehension that why we are leaving this strategic and natural ally waiting in the anteroom for so long”, says 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”, concludes Mandl.