The participants in the dialogue included: Shira Greenberg – Chief Economist, Ministry of Finance; Prof. Michel Strawczynski – Director of the Bank of Israel Research Department; Dr. Adi Brender – Head of the Macroeconomics and Policy Division in the Bank of Israel Research Department; and Yoel Finkel – Deputy National Statistician, Central Bureau of Statistics.  Participants from the European Union included: Annika Eriksgaard Melander – Head of the Neighbourhood Countries – Macrofinancial Assistance Unit, Directorate‑General for Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission; Reuben Borg – Growth Forecast Team Leader, Directorate‑General for Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission; Maria Gerhardt – Economist, Bilateral Division; and Jolanta Szczerbinska, Statistician, Mediterranean Regional Cooperation Unit, Eruostat.


This year, the parties discussed the macroeconomic effects of the COVID-19 crisis and the economic programs adopted to deal with the economic challenge.  In addition, the two parties added new topics to the economic dialogue, including the “Tracks to Regional Peace” initiative to create a rail link between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf countries through Israel as a land bridge and Jordan as a regional transportation hub.  The initiative, which is being led by the Minister of Finance, will create a shorter, faster, less expensive, and more secure trading route between east and west, and will contribute to the Jordanian, Palestinian Authority, Israeli, Saudi, and Persian Gulf economies.  The parties discussed the monetary effects and other regional projects, and also discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and information sharing practices between the Central Bureau of Statistics and Eurostat.


The virtual meeting took place against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emphasizes the importance that the two sides attribute to holding economic dialogue and mutual learning.  The European Union and Israel share economic uncertainty and holding joint learning about ways to deal with the pandemic and strengthen economic connections between Israel and the European Union is significant.


Chief Economist Shira Greenberg said, “The European Union is a major economic partner for the Israeli economy, and we attribute great importance to constant and significant economic dialogue.  The mutual learning that has taken place through the dialogue will help Israel deal with the ramifications of the health crisis.”


Bank of Israel Research Department Director Prof. Michel Strawczynski said, “Changing the analyses and opinions with regard to using policy tools during the COVID-19 crisis has contributed greatly to our assessment of the effect of existing programs both in Europe and in Israel.  The response of European and Israeli budgetary and monetary policies, which take into account the industries that have been adversely impacted, comprises a central part of dealing economically with the crisis.  The lessons learned during the discussion will guide policymakers as they move forward.”​