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Euromed News

INSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

* EU foreign ministers discussed the cartoons issue and the Middle East Peace Process at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (27 February). In its conclusions, the Council expressed concern with the events that followed the publication of cartoons in European media. It backed freedom of expression and strongly condemned all violent acts and threats, while at the same time acknowledging and regretting that they were considered offensive and distressing by Muslims all over the world. The ministers will actively promote dialogue, mutual understanding and respect through all existing mechanisms including the Barcelona process and the Anna Lindh Foundation. On the situation in the Middle East the Council was briefed by the High Representative on his visit to Israel and the West Bank. The EC’s intention to provide emergency assistance was endorsed. For more information go to the Council conclusions:
http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/gena/88541.pdf (original version)

* European Parliament political group EPP-ED says religious mockery must be criticised, but violence is no means for resolving conflicts (23 February). EPP-ED invited the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and ambassadors to a dinner debate at the European Parliament. For more information on the discussion go to: http://www.epp-ed.org/Press/showpr.asp?PRControlDocTypeID=1&PRControlID=4594&PRContentID=8332&PRContentLG=en

* The European Commission unveiled a package worth over 120 million euros for the Palestinians (27 February). This money is aimed to help meet Palestinian population’s basic needs, such as adequate public services in the fields of electricity and water and provide emergency relief through UNRWA. Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said this money will help alleviate hardship and relieve the pressure on the caretaker government’s finances. It also authorised the partial release of resources from the World Bank Trust Fund. In the meantime, the EC is closely following the political developments in the Palestinian Territories. For details click on:
http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/235&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* Frank and open discussion between Ahmed Ouyahia and President Barroso during the Algerian Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels, on February 22, 2006. The discussion between the Algerian Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, and President Barroso took place in a frank and open atmosphere, focusing on three key issues: trade, energy (for which a strategic dialogue framework will be developed based on the model used for other partner countries), and the Association Agreement to which the Algerian Prime minister confirmed his strong support for implementation. President Barroso expressed the wish to relaunch talks between the European Union and Algeria. He stressed that the events linked to the publication of the Danish cartoons in the European media demonstrat the need for discussion based on mutual understanding, and since the two sides of the Mediterranean are closely interdependent, common problems, require common solutions.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* LAUNCHING OF A PROGRAMME FOR THE EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES IN LEBANON
The General Commissioner of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), Karen Abu Zayd, the Director of UNRWA, Richard Cook, and the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Lebanon, Ambassador Patrick Renauld, participated on 23 February, at Sibline, in the launching of an education programme intended to improve access to employment for the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon. This project, financed by the European Union (€ 15,000,000) in the framework of the MEDA programme, aims at facilitating access to employment through the improvement of the education system provided by UNRWA in its network of primary and secondary schools in Lebanon. This new programme will further access to knowledge in different ways so as to reduce school failure and drop-out rates, and enhance the teaching skills of UNRWA teachers.

* CONFERENCE IN ROME ON 7-8 MARCH 2006 TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE ENPI CROSS-BORDER

PROGRAMMES

* The future European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) should have a strong cross-border component (CBC) supporting economic and social cohesion as well as external policy objectives.
In the perspective of drafting the “ENPI CBC Strategy Paper”, the EC has launched a consultation process with the EU Member States and Partner Countries. At the initiative of the EC, INTERACT Point Managing Transition and External Cooperation (INTERACT MT) is therefore organising a conference in Rome on 7-8 March 2006, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy. This conference aims to present to the ENPI stakeholders the proposed programming framework and the main elements of the CBC strategy for ENPI. The participants will also be provided with an overview of the implementing rules as well as the necessary elements for kicking off the process of preparation of the Joint cross border co-operation programmes.

* MEETING OF THE MAGHREB ELECTRICITY TECHNICAL GROUP ON APRIL 7TH, 2006 IN BRUSSELS
In cooperation with DG AIDCO, DG TREN organises the first meeting of the MAGHREB Electricity technical group for April 7th, 2006 in Brussels, as part of the regional Neighbourhood Energy programme which includes an element aimed at creating an integrated electricity market between three North African countries, (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), and the European Union. This meeting will allow all parties to review project implementation, notably concerning the recruitment of technical assistance and to discuss the themes of the Energy Regulators’ Conference organised by the Italian government in Rome on May 29th, 2006.

* SIA-EMFTA : PRESENTATION OF THE FINAL REPORT FOR PHASE 2
The Euro-Mediterranean Conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Barcelona in November 1995 set the year 2010 as the target date for the gradual establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EMFTA). An independent sustainability impact assessment (SIA) study of EMFTA carried out by an external consultant, is expected to help the European Commission and its Partners to examine the potential impacts of agreed trade measures on sustainable development, to influence the content of negotiations and the specific features of trade regimes in different sectors, and to develop and put in motion mitigation and enhancement measures where appropriate. The Phase 2 report of this study has been published a few months ago and generated a number of comments and recommendations from various sections of the Civil Society and from the EC.
An additional presentation of this report to civil society and a discussion on the next steps will take place in a meeting organised by DG TRADE in Brussels on 20 March 2006, one day before the opening of the EU TRADE SIA Stocktaking Conference.
Based on the SIA findings and the comments and recommendations received, the Commission will define priority areas on which the SIA should concentrate under Phase 3, with particular consideration for the most sensitive sectors and the related mitigation and enhancement measures that might be deployed. The announcement of this civil society meeting will be circulated soon through DG Trade usual channels. In the meantime, should you wish to obtain additional information, please contact Manuela GELENG at the following address: Trade-civilsociety@cec.eu.int
For further information on the Phase 2 report and the SIA-EMFTA undertaking as a whole, please visit the following website: http://www.sia-trade.org/emfta/en/index.shtml

MISCELLANEOUS

* LAUNCHING OF A MASTER IN EURO-MEDITERRANEAN AFFAIRS BY THE NETWORK OF
MEDITERRANEAN UNIVERSITIES AND OTHER ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS
In 2002–2004, thanks to a grant from the European Commission (under the EU INTERREG IIIB MEDOCC Programme), the Network of Mediterranean Universities and other Academic Institutions Network has been established. A Master in Euro-Mediterranean Affairs (MEMA) has been designed as a result of the activities of this network. It aims at training new leaders in Euro-Mediterranean affairs. At present, this network is self-funded, directly or indirectly, by a number of public and private institutions. The Master Programme, contributing to the further integration of Europe and the Southern & Eastern Mediterranean, will start its first session on 3rd July 2006. The deadline for applications for enrolment is the 6th March 2006, however late applications may be accepted in order to fill up all available positions.
For further information, please visit the following website: http://www.maem-mema.org/

Brussels,03 06 2006
Rédaction
European Union
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