The Simone Veil Research Centre for Contemporary European Studies (formally the Centre for the Study of Politics and Society, CSEPS) was established in 2003 at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), in order to promote a greater awareness within Israel, of the growing importance of Europe and of the European Union. Since its establishment, the Simone Veil Centre has strengthened its position as a leading European research and academic centre in Israel, through new initiatives and partnerships, both academic and institutional. On the institutional level, the European Commission recognized BGU and the Simone Veil Centre as a Jean Monnet National Centre of Excellence for European Studies, the highest academic ranking that the European Commission grants to any European study programme, and includes European co-financing. This is the only Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in Israel and the recognition of the study programme is first and foremost a European recognition of the Simone Veil Centre's academic excellence.
In the last few years, the Simone Veil Centre has embarked upon new partnerships with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and with the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In March 2009 the Simone Veil Centre and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung signed a long-term cooperation agreement. This agreement aims to promote a greater awareness within Israel of the growing importance of Europe and of the EU, while offering the wider public in Israel and in particular BGU students the opportunity to learn about contemporary political and social developments in Europe. In May 2010 the Simone Veil Centre signed another important cooperation agreement with the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. The objective of this agreement is to enhance, encourage, and formalise scholarly and scientific interaction between the institutions, through the promotion of exchange opportunities for academic staff, professional staff and students, and through the encouragement of cooperative activities.
We at the Simone Veil Centre place academic research and learning at the heart of our activities, and we continue to develop new research projects and programmes for study, year after year. One of the highlights of the past year was our research project which was approved for financial support by the ‘The German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development – G.I.F’. The G.I.F. now sponsors our research ‘The European Union (EU) in Israeli Eyes: Public, Elite, Civil Society and Media Perceptions of the European Union’. This research provides the first detailed analysis of Israeli perceptions and images of the EU. By providing empirical findings concerning the attitudes of Israeli public opinion, political elites, organised civil society and the media, this research offers insights into the overall assessment by of Israeli society of the EU as a global actor.
In October 2008, the Simone Veil Centre, together with the Department of Politics and Government, established a European Study Programme within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Adenauer Programme for the Study of European Politics and Society explores the European continent in all its various facets including politics, society, culture and economy. Thanks to additional funding from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Marc Rich Foundation for Education, Culture and Welfare, we are now able to add new courses to the Adenauer Programme’s teaching curriculum, offering a wide range of Europe related resources to the Programme’s growing student community. Our commitment to the wider academic institution in which we operate is seen in the fact that the Centre is becoming increasingly involved with the BGU Associates Offices throughout Europe, as part of the overall University fundraising objectives, and as a means of bringing the Israel-Europe link to the attention of our many supporters throughout Europe.