The real take-off in relations between Israel and the European Union (EU) from an institutional (hence not only economic but also political) viewpoint can be dated to the beginning of the Oslo Process (1993) and to the launch of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), now a quarter of a century old. The latter’s objective was to provide a general framework for the reinforcement of political, economic and social relations between the two Mediterranean coasts. In this context, Israel was offered an Association Agreement with the EU for an unlimited time period.
It is until today the only legal basis for EU-Israel relations since 2000, when it was entirely ratified by the European Parliament (EP), the 15 member states and Israel. Although the agreement properly speaking was signed in November 1995, it took five years to be ratified, basically for political reasons. It created an association council at the ministerial level that had to meet at least once a year.
In practice it has not been meeting since 2012, following the actual freeze of political relations more than a decade ago. From the outset, Israel objected to the fact that the association was part of the so-called EMP that continued to treat Israel like other Mediterranean non-member countries, even when the distance between Israel and the rest of the group in terms of economic development had widened over the 1970s through the 1990s.