The EU continues to fund Israeli companies and institutions that are directly involved in the maintenance of the Israeli regime of apartheid, colonialism and occupation. ECCP has worked on new research, Stop the Wall prepared new resources, a new campaign targets a shocking EU funded project aimed at unifying methodology of interrogation between Israeli police and European police forces.
European Union research and development funding to Israel, its institutions and companies inevitably channels EU tax money to sustain Israeli violations of international law and human rights and is a result of the EU acceptance of Israel in its R&D funding cycles such as the current the 80 billion worth Horizon 2020 programme and the previous FP7 programme. During the five years (2007-2013) of the FP7 programme, the EU has financed over 1500 research and development projects with Israeli participation. It is time for the EU to live up to its rhetoric of human rights commitments, cancel the EU-Israel Association Agreement and exclude Israel from EU cooperation and funding projects until Israel respects international law and human rights.
Campaign against EU funding to the Israeli military and security sector
Since the beginning of 2015 Palestinian and EU civil society have been denouncing in particular the EU funding for the Israeli military and security complex. See, for example, the Stop the Wall report ‘Supporting Israeli apartheid: EU funding for Elbit Systems’ warning about possible funding to Elbit Systems and other Israeli security and military companies. Letters from civil society and members of the European Parliament to the EU institutions as well as parliamentary questions have targeted such funding. (See a summary of the letters and MEP questions here.) On the 1st of March 2016, a combination of representatives of the mainstream parties of the European Parliament – the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the European People’s Party, and the Socialists and Democrats – hosted a public hearing on an unprecedented topic. The hearing was based on research published by ECCP on the question of Israeli military entities receiving funding from the European Union through the funding programme Horizon 2020.
In April 2016 Stop the Wall released and presented two new briefings to MEPs and the EU institutions:
The briefing ‘Dual use and Misuse/Malevolent use of research results in the case of EU funding to Israeli military and security companies’ argues that the EU so far has given no satisfactory justification for the funding under the Horizon 2020 framework for projects that involve Elbit Systems and other Israeli military and security companies and asks for such projects to be immediately excluded from funding. THe documentation highlights how such projects violate EU ethics regulations that oblige the funded projects to give guarantees against misuse or malevolent use of research results (research involving or generating materials, methods or knowledge that could be misused for unethical purposes) and mission or function Creep of technology or information/data beyond the approved initial plan in a way that it harms fundamental ethical values or civil rights.
The briefing ‘Projects under Scrutiny’ is based on information collected by the ECCP about 10 Horizon and FP7 projects with participation of Israeli military or security companies that show high probability of dual use and misuse/malevolent use of research results.
The ethics appraisal process of the European Commission simply refuses to recognize that in the case of Israel it deals with institutions and companies that maintain a system of apartheid and occupation that involves gross violation of international law and human rights.
This position voids all condemnations of Israeli illegal practices and foreign policy principles of the European Union of meaning. EU ‘human rights dialogues’ or political statements of the European Council remain futile exercises as long as the EU Commission continues to finance the development and application of Israeli methodology and technology necessary to maintain and implement Israeli crimes.
LAW TRAIN – an EU licence for Israeli torture
Another particularly shocking project is LAW TRAIN – a project that develops technology to unify methodology for police interrogations and brings together the Israeli Ministry for Public Security and the Israeli National Police with their counterparts from Belgium, Portugal and Spain and with private companies, universities and research institutes. The four year Horizon 2020 project lead by Israel continues to receive funding from the EU, all the while the final observations of the UN Committee against Torture, released on May 13 2016, have once again exhorted Israel to finally outlaw torture and has highlighted ongoing practices of torture and ill-treatment in the interrogation process, in particular against Palestinian juveniles.
For a full briefing on the project see here.
For a briefing in Portuguese see here.
In Portugal, the Movement for Palestinian Rights and Peace in the Middle East has issued a statement urging the government to withdraw from the project. The members of parliament of the Portuguese Communist Party, on whose support the government depends, have condemned the project and asked the Minister of Justice what steps she is taking to reverse the decision of the previous government and get out of the dirty project. Media in Belgium and Portugal have already criticized the project.
The campaign against EU funding to Israel started in 2011. With the support of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee (BNC), Stop the Wall submitted responses to the EU consultation process on on EU funding. It highlighted that European funding for Israeli actors that are complicit with violations of international law must not be allowed to continue. A long drawn effort that included efforts from a host of European and Palestinian organizations and solidarity groups that ranged from students action against their universities participation in projects including settlement companies, such as Ahava, to lobbying at the EU, in 2014 the EU adopted new guidelines on the participation of Israeli entities in the EU funding and cooperation projects. For more see here. This was a step in the right direction but the current efforts clearly show that this has only partially limited the EU’s complicity with Israeli violations of international law and human rights.
The case of Israel uncovers probably only the tip of the iceberg of political and ethical problems in the allocation of public money through Horizon 2020. The allocation of EU funding budgets urgently needs the attention of the European public and its political representatives, who largely remain unaware of the way their public money is spent. While the EU has to change its rules and regulations, participants have their own moral, political and legal obligations. Especially public and governmental bodies have to respect their obligations under international law and their own constitutions. If we don’t want to surrender to the idea that the EU is simply a union serving big and bad business, it is time for European citizens to question EU funding rules and demand accountability for how their money is spent, for governments to pressure the EU on its political and ethical inconsistence and for the EU to mend their ways.