The Urso-Bar meeting. On Tuesday, Minister of Business and Made in Italy Adolfo Urso met with Israeli Ambassador Alon Bar (and his deputy, Alon Simhayoff) to “consolidate bilateral relations between Israel and Italy,” as he tweeted. The occasion also marked the activation of a working group to improve industrial, technological and scientific cooperation.
It’s an ongoing process. In April, Mr Urso’s predecessor Giancarlo Giorgetti (currently Economy Minister) flew to Israel to meet with Orna Barbivai, head of the local Economy and Industry Ministry. The two had expressed their desire for increased collaboration on the green industrial transition.
- Target areas for cooperation include research on alternative sources of energy, research and technological innovation applied to industry, healthcare (starting with vaccines) and defence.
The working group is yet to be formed. Decode39 understands it will be composed of officials from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Industry, as well as other ministries for specific, ad-hoc issues, such as energy and water. The hashtags in Me Urso’s tweet suggest the main topics of interest are energy, digitalisation, health, water and agriculture, as well as security and defence.
- The group’s goal is to strengthen cooperation between Israeli and Italian companies in these sectors and revive an industrial relationship considered strategic by Giorgia Meloni’s government.
Building upon solid foundations. Italy and Israel have been pushing on joint research projects – through a yearly call for admission based on the Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement – for years. Several major existing projects confirm the potential of the cooperation:
- the chipmaker Tower Semiconductor (acquired by the US’ Intel) operates in Northern Italy, in plants belonging to the Italo-French group STMicroelectronics;
- Electreon’s technology has been applied on a Northern Italian highway to recharge the batteries of electric vehicles as they travel;
- the sustainable energy storage system in Tuscany, inaugurated by Enel and Brenmiller Energy in early November, and agrovoltaic projects in Sardinia.
The capitals speak. Meanwhile, diplomacies are working towards a meeting between the Italian government, helmed by Giorgia Meloni, and the nascent Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
- The previous Italian and Israeli PMs, Mario Draghi and Naftali Bennett, had met and vowed to deepen relations between the two governments.
- Work was underway for a bilateral summit in October to be held in Jerusalem, but political developments in both countries caused it to be postponed. The summit might be held as early as the first half of 2023.