New Realities in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Challenges for the Future of EU-Israel Economic Relations6 October 2021 - 7 October 2021. From 09:30 To 16:30 | Conference | English | IEMed
Since 1975, the free trade agreements between Israel and the EU have generated intensive trade and economic relations, and the EU is today Israel’s main trading partner, accounting for one-third of its total trade. However, in the meantime political relations have significantly worsened. Over the last decade, differences over the Middle East Peace Process, the intensification of Israel’s settlement policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the recent outbreak of violence in May 2021, have led to growing tensions with the EU.
Despite the centrality of its economic ties with the EU, Israel has increasingly looked elsewhere both for economic outreach and political support. In addition to the long-standing alliance with the US, Israel has recently cemented ties with key Arab countries sealing several normalization deals with a number of them, while promoting energy cooperation in the context of the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the short-term and in the context of the fast post-COVID reopening of its economy, these multiple alignments have proven tenable and useful to Israel’s own national interest. However, in the medium-term several conundrums could expose the intrinsic frailty of these tactical shifts. How will the new coalition government position itself regarding Netanyahu’s legacy in this domain?
In the framework of its annual EU meeting, the Israeli-European Policy Network (IEPN), in cooperation with the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), provides a suitable platform to analyse and debate the challenges of the EU-Israel economic relations, situating them in their overarching environment of the Eastern Mediterranean. The meeting aims at discussing the extent to which Israel has increasingly diversified its economic strategies by fostering relations with Asian and Arab countries, as well as energy cooperation with neighbouring countries. The meeting intends to shed light on the impact of this strategy on EU-relations in the context of the Eastern Mediterranean sub-regional cooperation. Finally, the interlinked character of economic and political relations is questioned, as well as the conditions and opportunities under which improved and sustainable relations can be built between Israel, its neighbours and the EU.