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* Relations between the EU and Lebanon got into a new phase on April 1, with the entering into force of the Association Agreement signed between the two parties. The Association Agreement sets out the principles governing political and economic relations between the EU and Lebanon. It provides for an in-depth political dialogue, it facilitates the country’s modernization effort and furthers economic cooperation. It was signed in 2002 and replaces the Interim Agreement that was in force since 2003. The Association Agreement is also considered a first step in Lebanon’s participation in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Negotiations on its ENP Action started on 6th April:http://www.dellbn.cec.eu.int/en/eu_and_lebanon/06/index.htm and http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/med_ass_agreemnts.htm

* “Tunisia is a pioneer of the Barcelona Process”says Foreign Minister and EU Council President Ursula Plassnik when meeting her Tunisian counterpart, Abdelwahab Abdallah, on 5th April. The discussions centred on the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Mrs. Plassnik explained that the spheres of cooperation with Tunisia range from economic issues, the rule of law and promoting democracy to the common fight against terrorism and illegal migration. “It bodes well for the whole region that the EU is working together with Tunisia on this matter to establish a sub-committee for human rights issues”, she added. http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/April/0504PlassnikAbdallah.html

* President of the European Commission to attend European Imams conference on 7th April in Austria. The President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, and the Austrian Chancellor Wolfang Schüssel will participate in a Conference of European Imams organised by the Austrian Islamic Community and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vienna. Around 150 Muslim representatives from 35 European countries are expected to participate in the discussions on April 7 – 9. This conference follows one which took place in June 2003 in Graz, Austria. The conference in Graz identified the fact that « European Muslims are equally aware of both their religious identity as Muslims and of their civil identity as Europeans». The conference in Vienna on April 7th will focus on the question of integration of Muslim communities throughout Europe. Issues such as terrorism and human rights will also be discussed at the conference. President Barroso’s participation reflects the on-going efforts of the Commission and the President to encourage dialogue and respect of all religious in Europe and in the world. http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/president/index_en.htm

* EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, spoke of a “delicate juncture” with regards to the new Palestinian government and the holding of elections in Israel during the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on 5th April. The Hamas government should respect the Quartet principles evoked by the European Union on 30th March 2006: non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. “There is nothing arbitrary about those principles”, Mr. Solana said, “until Hamas changes its stance, it can not be regarded as a valid partner”. Mr. Solana also spelled out that “the coming to power in Palestine, in free, democratic elections, of a movement affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood represents an entirely new development.” Besides respecting the Quartet's three principles, in order to be regarded as a fully-fledged political entity, Hamas also should apply to the rule of law and to a democratic transfer of power, while maintaining the pluralistic nature of Palestinian society. Full speech: http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/discours/89164.pdf On the Quartet meeting: http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/declarations/89111.pdf

* Following the elections in Israel, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, insisted that the EU would only support changes to the pre-1967 border agreed by consensus between the Parties. Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner underlined in her speech at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on 5th April, that the EU stands ready to work with the next Israeli Government to promote security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike. According to the Commissioner, Kadima’s election victory “represents a profound shift in Israeli politics” and might show the way to “the establishment of permanent borders for Israel by 2010, following further disengagement from the occupied West Bank”. She expressed the EU’s intention to continue to provide emergency and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian following the €120m which were mobilized to help meet their basic needs and stabilise the finances of the caretaker government that just left office. “But unless the new government complies with the Quartet conditions for continued engagement, there can be no business as usual”, she concluded.

* To launch the discussions on the Cross-border Cooperation (CBC), the European Commission has organised a meeting in Brussels on 24-26 April 2006 to discuss the content of the CBC cooperation programmes, the implementing rules and the guidelines for preparing the programmes. Individual meetings with each CBC programme will also be conducted. The CBC is a component in the new European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which aims at reinforcing cooperation with territories bordering the European Union. This component will finance “joint programmes” bringing together regions of Members States and partner countries sharing a common border. Two types of programmes will be established: bilateral programmes covering a common land border (or short sea crossing), and multilateral programmes covering a sea basin. The crossborder cooperation will be cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Participants from the EU Member States, the Mediterranean and Tacis countries involved in the CBC programmes have been invited to the meeting. For any questions on this issue: EuropeAid-CBC@cec.eu.int

* Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Mr. De Fontaine Vive Curtaz, visits Egypt from 5th to 7th April. The main objective of Mr. Curtaz’s visit is to review operations of the EIB in Egypt and discuss with Egyptian high officials the options for the future of the Bank’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). In line with the European Neighbourhood Policy, FEMIP aims to help the Mediterranean partner countries meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and enhanced regional integration, particularly in the run-up to the creation of a free trade area with the EU by 2010. More information on the visit: http://www.eu-delegation.org.eg/en/News/316.asp (in English and Arabic) and on the FEMIP: http://www.eib.org/site/index.asp?designation=med


* First MEDA-WATER sectoral workshop: Synergy on waste water reuse, 10-11 April 2006, Amman
The Regional Management and Support Unit (RMSU) of the Euro-Mediterranean regional programme for local water management (“MEDA-Water”), financed by MEDA, plans to organise a 2-day sectoral workshop for MEDA Water projects on wastewater reuse. The objective of the workshop is to exchange information on project methodologies and results and to discuss ways of strengthening co-operation between the MEDA Water projects on the aforementioned subject. Participation is primarily intended for projects which concentrate on wastewater and/or wastewater reuse (MEDAWARE, ZERO-M and EMWATER) and on projects that have wastewater (reuse) components in their work package and work directly with the local population on these issues (EMPOWERS, IRWA and MEDWA). A limited number of external experts on wastewater reuse, working in the MEDA region, will also be invited. http://www.emwis.org/MEDA/meda_water.htm

* Towards a Sustainable Strategy in the Mediterranean for the Services Industry, 18-21 April 2006, Malta
The regional MEDA project “ANIMA”, the Euro-Mediterranean network of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) which has as primary goal the reinforcement of the capabilities of Mediterranean IPAs, is organising a seminar on Sustainable Strategy for the Services Industry in the region. This seminar will present how after the decline of manufacturing investment, certain European entities have embarked on such a strategy. The policy of sustainable economic development policy and opportunities for the development of a sustainable services sector in the Mediterranean will also be discussed and participants will be asked to give a short presentation on the development of the services industry in their country. Participants from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestinian Authorities, Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco will take part as well as two European Investment Promotion Agencies. For more information: http://www.animaweb.org

* Annual Forum of the MEDA-ETE regional project “Education and Training for Employment”, 6-7 April 2006, Turin
The Annual Forum of the MEDA regional project “Education and Training for Employment” (MEDA-ETE) provides a cooperation framework for Euromed partners. It aims at encouraging the exchange of experience and good practices in the field of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and employment, as well as facilitating network building for further dialogue and cooperation between stakeholders in the Euro-Mediterranean region, and allowing the participants’ follow-up on the execution of the MEDA-ETE project. 140 participants will take part in this first Forum, among which Euromed policy makers, representatives of TVET public agencies and the labour market, Education and Training for Employment Advisory Forum members, members of the Euromed Observatory network, thematic expert, representatives of relevant projects, and representatives of European Commission. Download the agenda on: http://www.meda-ete.net/ Further information available on: http://www.etf.eu.int

* ‘EU Advanced’: Cohesion & Regional Policy Seminar, 3-7 April 2006, Barcelona
This seminar is organised under the MEDA-funded regional programme “Euromed Training of Public Administrations”. The objective is to provide civil servants from the Mediterranean Partners’ public administrations with an in depth knowledge on cohesion and regional policy in the framework of the Association Agreements with the EU. Furthermore, the seminar aims at promoting networking among the MEDA partners and relevant institutions in the EU and its member States, as well as encouraging the exchange of experience and best practice in the field concerned. ‘EU Advanced’ is one of four modules of this MEDA initiative, the others being ‘EU Basics’, ‘EU Programmes’, and ‘Train the Trainers’. Creating a network of training centres is also envisaged under the programme. For more information: www.eipa.nl

* Regional technical assistance – Euromed Youth porgramme, Phase III
Following the call for tenders launched in August 2006 with regard to the identification of regional technical assistance for the 3rd phase of the Euromed Youth programme, the INJEP (Institut National de la Jeunesse et de l'Education Populaire, Paris, France) was awarded a two-year contract. This technical assistance will enable support to the national authorities in charge of the youth programme in the decentralisation process, and it will ensure regional consistency as well as the visibility of the programme. http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/youth/priorities/euromed_decentralisation_en.html or http://www.injep.fr/

* Steering group meeting - Euro Mediterranean Cooperation Energy sector, 21 April 2006, Brussels
In the framework of the agreement for the progressive integration of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to the European electricity market, and following the signing of the Financial Agreement (FA) for the regional MEDA project on Euro Mediterranean Cooperation in the Energy sector, a steering group meeting will be held in Brussels on 21st April 2006. The meeting will address, among others, the implementation of the FA, the political roadmap of the project and the Rome conference which will take plane on 29th May 2006

Brussels,04 10 2006
European Union
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