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Brussels, 31st October 2007

European Union and Israel to launch business dialogue

Twenty European and Israeli business leaders, VP EU Commission and Israel's trade, industry and labour minister to kick off dialogue at Prime Minister's Conference on November 1. Some twenty business leaders from Europe and Israel, together with the Vice President of the European Commission Günter Verheugen and Israel's Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Eliyahu Yishai will, on November 1, launch the EU-Israel Business Dialogue. The goal of the dialogue, which follows the format of similar 'business-to business' dialogues between the EU and Russia, Japan, the United States and India, is to strengthen EU-Israel economic relations, remove barriers to trade and investment and enhance cooperation and joint ventures.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: "This Dialogue shall encourage European companies to do more business with Israel and to invest more in Israel. There is a huge economic potential that is not yet fully exploited."

Dr. Mathias Doepfner, Chairman and CEO of the German media group Axel Springer is the chairman of the European side of the Dialogue and will be joined by: Carlo de Benedetti (CIR), Samy Gattegno (Alcatel-Lucent) and Francesco Namotti (MedNautilus) from Italy; Sir Ronald Cohen (Portland Trust) and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (E.L. Rothschild) from the United Kingdom; Hanns Schleyer (ZDH), Prof. Horst Teltschlik (Teltschlik Associates), Stephanie Czerny (Burda Media) and Christopher Schlaeffer (Deutsche Telekom) from Germany as well as Haim Saban (Saban Capital Group). The Israeli side is to be chaired by internet entrepreneur and investor Mr. Yossi Vardi who will be joined by Eli Horowitz (Teva), Galia Maor (Bank Leumi) , Dov Lautman (Delta), Ami Erel (Discount Investment Corp.), Miki Federman ( Dan Hotels, Elbit), Yehuda Bronitzki (Ormat) , Michael Levy (Nilit) , Ari Steimatsky (Steimatsky) and Imad Telhami (formerly Delta).

In the first year of operations the EU-Israel Business Dialogue will focus on the sectors of: banking and finance; energy and clean technologies; life sciences; retail and manufacturing; telecommunication, media and internet and tourism and transportation.

The founding meeting of the EU-Israel Business Dialogue will take place in the framework of the Israel Prime Minister's Conference for Export and International Cooperation to be held at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv on November 1. During the full day of meetings the Dialogue will be launched by Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for Enterprise and Industry Günter Verheugen and Israel's Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour Eliyahu Yishai.

It was Prime Minister Olmert in his former position as Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour together with EU Commission Vice President Verheugen who, were instrumental in formulating the vision of a strong, sustainable and expanding dialogue between Israeli and European business leaders. When negotiating the EU-Israel Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy, it was agreed to establish "a business community dialogue" with the aim of "facilitating enhanced industrial co-operation". Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour Eliyahu Yishai, appointed Yossi Vardi to take the idea forward together with Dr. Doepfner who was invited to co-chair the Dialogue by Vice President Verheugen.

At its founding session, the EU-Israel Business Dialogue will establish a working plan for the coming year to include a series of sectorial meetings to be held in the margins of large international business conferences. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are also expected to address the Dialogue.

On November 1 at 15.30, Vice President of the European Commission, Günter Verheugen and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Eliyahu Yishai will hold an open discussion at the Concluding Session of the EU-Israel Business Dialogue to be followed by a Q&A session with press.

Venue: first floor conference room of the David Intercontinental Hotel.

Journalists wishing to register to attend the Prime Minister's Conference/Concluding Session EU-Israel Business Dialogue should contact Tal Rabina Integrated Communications Ltd at ++972-3-5351234 or by email In view of the strict security demands, journalists should bring their GPO cards and other ID.

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