Israel is an associated state of the EU and enjoys close economic and diplomatic ties. Through Research & Innovation funds, the EU invested billions in Israeli companies and organizations, among them also arms manufacturers like Elbit, Verint Systems and IAI. Between 2018-2020 border security agencies of the EU purchased Israeli drones for maritime surveillance missions at the Mediterranean sea, to provide migrants from crossing to European land.
Israel – EU Relations
Israel is an associated state of the EU. The relations between Israel and the EU are framed in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the Union for the Mediterranean.Israel EU trade relations with Israel. Facts, figures and latest developments. Legal ties are set by the Association Agreement from 1995 that entered into force in 2000.EU Cooperation with Israel – The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership The agreement with Israel incorporates free trade arrangements for industrial goods and concessionary arrangements for trade in agricultural products.EU Cooperation with Israel – The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership The agreement established the EU-Israel Association Council and the EU-Israel Association Committee.
The EU is Israel’s biggest trading partner with total trade amounting to €36.2 billion in 2017. Export from Israel to the EU amounted to €14.7 billion in 2017 and was dominated by chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, as well as other manufactured goods.Israel EU trade relations with Israel. Facts, figures and latest developments.
The European Commission signed an agreement with Israel in 2004 allowing for its participation in the Galileo Project, for a global navigation satellite system.Israel becomes major partner in EU satellite program Israel is a member of the European Science Organization and of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
In 2008, the EU decided to upgrade its relations with Israel within the European Common Foreign and Security Policy-CFSP and also to organize a diplomatic-strategic dialogue between Israel and the EU.Shaon Pardo and Joel Peters, Uneasy Neighbors: Israel and the European Union, Lexington Books, 2010, pp. 66-67 Israel joined the EU’s Research and Development-R&D program and has gained more access to political and defense policy committees.Horizon Europe is the largest R&D programme in the world, with a total budget of some 95.5 billion euros
Other visible aspects of Israeli-EU security and defense relations are displayed in mutual visits of high ranking personalitiesIsrael-EU Security and Defense Relations in the Context of the “Arab Spring” and through joint military training exercises such as for example the joint Israeli-ItalianIsrael Hosts Italian Air Force for Joint Training Exercise, Israeli-GreekIsraeli, Greek air forces to stage more joint exercisesand Israeli-PolishIAF, Polish Air Force hold joint exercise exercises in the years 2009 to 2022. There were also common drills with other European states within the framework of NATO’s military drills.Israel Air Force Conducts Drills for Long-range Attacks
Research and Innovation – FP7, Horizon 2020
Israel has been associated to EU Research & Innovation programs since 1996. During the FP7-program (2007-2013), Israeli companies participated and benefitted from programs worth €39.7 billion. During the FP7-program focus was on ICT, space and nanotechnology. €26 million in 49 projects went to Israeli companies in Israeli defense and national security sectors. 23 Israeli companies have been involved in one or several European security research projects among them Elbit, IAI, Aeronautics and Opgal.CORDIS is the primary source of results from EU-funded projects since 1990
Between 2007-2018, Israeli weapons companies Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) have been allowed to participate in EU funded research projects worth €244 million ($313.6 million).EU Urged to Exclude Israeli Arms Firms from Research Funds
During the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (2014-2020) more than 780 Israeli companies were granted with a total of €381 millionInnovation Israel : Israeli Results in H2020 To Date. Among others the companies: Elbit, IAI, Rafael and Elta.Innovation Israel : Israeli Results in H2020 Since Israel joined the European Research Area, IAI has landed at least 69 EU research grants. Because the European Commission is ostensibly prohibited from funding military R&D, most of these grants have come from the transport and aerospace budgets, where military and defense contractors play a leading role in developing new materials for aircraft and more efficient engines as part of the EU’s “clean skies” program.Clean Sky Europe/ The EU has also ploughed money into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs/drones)How the EU subsidises Israel’s military-industrial complex and unmanned ground vehicles.Cordis EU : Transportable Autonomous patrol for Land bOrder Surveillance
In 2008 the EU granted IAI with €2.9 million for the development of an unmanned patrol vehicle for land border surveillance under polish coordination, the project, named TALOS, ended in 2012.Transportable Autonomous patrol for Land bOrder Surveillance
In 2013 the Israeli companies IAI, Rotem Technological Solutions and the Ministry of Public security of Israel were involved in a research project of the EU called AEROCEPTER, which sought to develop a UAV for the interception of non-cooperative land and sea vehicles to stop irregular migration. The project got an EU contribution of €3.47 million.TNI Report : The Business of Building WallsCordis EU : UAV BASED INNOVATIVE MEANS FOR LAND AND SEA NON-COOPERATIVE VEHICLES STOP
Between 2014-2016 the Israeli cyber company Cellebrite participated in a €2m R&D program by the European Union called EVIDENCE (European Informatics Data Exchange Framework for Courts and Evidence).Cordis EU : European Informatics Data Exchange Framework for Courts and Evidence
Also, Israeli cybersecurity companies were funded through the EU FP7 and Horizon 2020 programs including among others XM Cyber and Verint Systems. In 2012 Israel’s Verint SystemsVerint Participating in Launch of “Total Airport Security Solution” Field Trial at London’s Heathrow Airport was chosen to lead a project to provide “Total Airport Security” to European airports with an overall budget of €1.2 millionTotal Airport Security System, its consortium includes Elbit Systems.Should the EU subsidise Israeli security? Other recipients of EU security grants include Aeronautics Defense Systems and the Israel Counter-Terrorism and Security Academy which are helping the EU with its “counter-radicalization” strategy.Cordis EU : Scientific Approach to Finding Indicators of and REsponses to Radicalisation
European Security Agencies
Among dozens of EU-funded UAV projects since 2007, IAI and Elbit landed contracts to develop drones for European security agencies to “autonomously” stop “illegal migrants” and “non-cooperative vehicles”.EU and Israel research crime-stopping drones In 2018 Elbit won a contract for up to $68 million to provide maritime unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) patrol services to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The contract, that was executed with Portugal-based CEiiA between 2018-2020 with an option for additional two years included the lease and operation of Hermes 900 drones and its ground control station.Elbit wins drone contract for up to $68m to help monitor Europe coast
After conducting test flights between 2018-2020 IAI has been awarded a leasing-contract in 2020 to provide the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) with the Heron drone for maritime patrols. Under the contract IAI will lease the Heron 1 for a period of four years in a deal estimated to be worth several tens of millions of dollars.EU Border and Coast Guard Agency to lease Maritime Herons from IAI European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) selects Airbus and its partner IAI for Maritime Aerial Surveillance with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Another company included in Frontex operations is Israel Shipyards.TNI Report : The Business of Building Walls
Frontex is the key institution for managing the EU’s external borders and was created in 2004.Civil-Military Capacities for European Security Most of the maritime operations to stop migration to Europe are coordinated by Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency).TNI Report : The Business of Building Walls Frontex has put at least €676.4m into its maritime operations from 2006-2017.TNI Report : The Business of Building Walls For its next multiyear budget (2021-2027) the European Commission has earmarked €11.27 billion of which around €2.2 billion will be used for acquiring, maintaining and operating air, sea and land assets.Europe’s multi-billion border budget is a bonanza for the security industry Around €100 million is for the set-up of standing corps of 10k guards for Frontex.EU Allocates €101.4 Million to Frontex to Set up the Standing Corps of 10k Guards by 2027 For EUROSUR – the European Border Surveillance System) at least €1.9 billion was earmarked for the period of 2000-2027.Europe’s multi-billion border budget is a bonanza for the security industry
In February 2021, a group of European journalists published the “Frontex Files,” a list of meetings between Frontex and various lobbyists, among them Israeli security companies such as Elbit, as well as Shilat Optronics and BeeSense (then called Seraphim Optronics), which specialize in surveillance and facial recognition technologies.DIE FRONTEX FILES
In 2018 the Israeli government concluded a working agreement with the EU police agency EUROPOL. The treaty provides for cooperation to combat cross-border crime, including cybercrime, fraud, and terrorism.Europol : Working Arrangement – Cooperative Relations between Law enforcement of Israel and the EU Despite territorial clause: Europol starts police cooperation with Israel
Usage of Israeli Arms
Heron 1 (IAI) – was used by Frontex for operational test flights from Crete for to monitor the Mediterranean Sea from 2018-2020.Drones watching Fortress Europe/ Under new deal from 2020 is planned to be stationed in Greece, Italy or Malta for Border surveillance above the Mediterranean Sea.
Hermes 900 (Elbit) – flights were carried out by EMSA in the Mediterranean Sea. The flight were conducted for Frontex, information from the drones were transmitted in real time to Frontex’s situation centers. They fed into the surveillance network EUROSUR. In addition the Icelandic government made use of the Hermes 900 under EMSA.Against Migration: EU drone crashed in Crete Other interested countries in the EMSA-drones according to the EU commission: Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.Netzpolitik European Commission Answer on EMSA contracts
TAAS (Verint Systems) – the multi-segment, multi-level intelligence and surveillance system was tested at Athens International Airport in Greece, Faro Airport in Portugal and Heathrow Airport in London.Cordis Europe : Reporing – Total Airport Security System
Combat suites (Elbit)– supplied for patrol vessels for the Hellenic Coast Guard. Used mainly by Greece, but assigned to Frontex operations outside Greek waters for four months per year.TNI Report : The Business of Building Walls
Human Rights Violations
Militarization of European Borders:
Every year thousands of migrants and refugees try to reach Europe. Some are driven by the need to escape grinding poverty; others are seeking refuge from violence and persecution. At least 23,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives trying to reach Europe between 2000-2014. And those who make it to the borders of the European Union (EU) find that safety remains beyond their grasp.Amnesty International : THE HUMAN COST OF FORTRESS EUROPE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES AT EUROPE’S BORDERS The EU and its member states have constructed an increasingly impenetrable fortress to keep irregular migrants out – irrespective of their motives, regardless of the desperate measures that many are prepared to take to reach its shores. In order to “defend” its borders, the EU has funded sophisticated surveillance systems (EUROSUR), given financial support to member states at its external borders, such as Bulgaria and Greece, to fortify their borders and created an agency to coordinate a Europe-wide team of border guards to patrol EU frontiers (FRONTEX).Amnesty International : THE HUMAN COST OF FORTRESS EUROPE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES AT EUROPE’S BORDERS
EU border and migration policies are based on a framework in which migration and refugees are treated as a security threat, to be dealt with by ‘fight against illegal immigration,’ and increasingly by using (para)military personnel and equipment. Arms and security industries helped shape European border security policy. The same industry selling arms to the Middle East and North Africa, fueling the conflicts, repression and human rights violations that have led to forcible displacement, is also the main beneficiary of EU border security contracts.TNI Report : The Business of Building Walls
Since 1992 and even more aggressively since 2005, the EU has developed a policy of externalizing Europe’s border so that forcibly displaced people never get to Europe’s borders in the first place. These policies involve agreements with Europe’s neighboring countries to accept deported persons and adopt the same policies of border control, improved tracking of people and fortified borders as Europe. Because they are so far from Europe’s shores and media, the impacts are almost completely invisible to EU citizens.TNI Report : Expanding the Fortress
The boosting and militarization of border security has led to a higher death toll for forcibly displaced people. In general, measures on one migration route force people to take more dangerous routes. In 2017 one out of every 57 migrants crossing the Mediterranean died, compared to one out of every 267 migrants in 2015.TNI Report : Expanding the Fortress Exact statistics of the deaths of migrants recorded along Mediterranean routes are difficult to measure because of the large unknow numbers of disappearances in the sea. Data combined from IOM, national authorities and media sources estimate the number of around 18,000 deaths in the Mediterranean Sea between 2014-2019. Between January and December 2020 according to reports, 981 migrants died while attempting to cross the sea to Europe.MIGRATION WITHIN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, increasingly works together with third countries. It started negotiations with countries neighboring the EU on the possibility of joint operations on their territories. Cooperation on deportations has developed quickly. From 2010 to 2016 Frontex coordinated 400 joint return flights to third countries, 153 of which in 2016. Since 2014 some of those flights have been so-called ‘Collecting Joint Return Operations’, where the airplane and escorts at the flight are from the country of destination. Next to this, EU member states increasingly invite third country delegations to identify ‘deportable’ persons as having their nationality. In several cases this has led to the deported people being arrested and tortured.TNI Report : Expanding the Fortress
In 2020 humanitarian groups claims the EU is using aerial surveillance to spot stranded migrants in Mediterranean Sea but only alerting Libya’s coast guard to intervene, a move that facilitates illegal pushbacks while preventing non-governmental rescue operations from reaching migrants.EU accused of using aerial surveillance to help push migrants back to Libya UN rights office concerned over migrant boat pushbacks in the Mediterranean Intercepted migrants are placed in arbitrary detention facilities in Libya, where they face human rights violations including torture, sexual violence, and lack of health care, as well as the risk of contracting Covid-19.UN rights office concerned over migrant boat pushbacks in the Mediterranean Also, on the border between Greece and Turkey, human rights organization documented pushbacks of refugees to turkey by official coast guard agencies, among them Frontex and national coast guards.Greece: Violent Pushbacks at Turkey Border