"The European Union is determined to develop a closer partnership with Israel. This process needs to be seen in the context of the broad range of our common interests," European Commissioner Jan Figel said on the occasion of the signing of a joint EU-Israel declaration to reinforce cooperation and dialogue in education and training.
"I strongly believe that enhancing cooperation and dialogue on education and training is instrumental for improving our mutual understanding and for strengthening our position with regard to the challenges facing us in an ever-globalising knowledge-based society and economy," Figel, who is in charge of education, training, culture and youth, said last month during an official visit to Israel.
"Our education and training systems are adapting to this new reality and we can learn a lot from each other," the Slovakian Commissioner added.
Figel signed the declaration with Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir.
The joint declaration will be an effective tool to contribute to the objectives of the 2005 Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy, namely to gradually integrate Israel into European policies and programmes.
For this purpose, the Commission and the Israeli government want to launch an enhanced policy dialogue on greater compatibility of education systems and to increase educational mobility and exchanges through the EU's Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes.
The declaration marks the starting point for a sectoral policy–oriented dialogue between the EU and Israel.
The EU Commission and Israel also expressed their intention to increase inter-university cooperation between European and Israeli universities for further mobility and exchange of academic staff and students, notably through the new generations of the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes.
Israel now fully participates in both programmes and the Commissioner's visit was also marked by the opening of the first National Tempus Office in Jerusalem. (...)