The European Investment Bank on 2 April announced it was lending a total of € 350 million for private sector support across Turkey, and for reconstruction in the regions of the country affected by the 1999 earthquakes. The corresponding loans were signed on 3 April in Istanbul during the 2nd meeting of the Policy Dialogue and Coordination Committee of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP – see below). Global loans totalling € 200 million will be channelled through the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) and the Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi (Vakifbank) to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in industry, tourism, and other services. Another € 150 million will go to the Turkish government in support of rehabilitation and reconstruction works in the regions affected by the earthquakes.
* European Commission President Romano Prodi visited Algeria on 30 March, and Tunisia on 31 March and 1 April to spell out the opportunities for the Maghreb countries of the forthcoming EU enlargement, and to re-state the EU’s readiness to work with them as partners within the Euro-Mediterranean context. President Prodi presented his recent ‘Wider Europe – Neighbourhood’ initiative, highlighting its significance within the sub-regional dimension of relations with Maghreb countries. The President insisted that those countries would make the most of the new opportunities by stepping up the pace of economic reform and making full use of the Association Agreements. The message was very well received by the authorities in Algeria and Tunisia who were well aware of the Wider Europe Communication, and whose response was very positive, particularly against the current background of the war in Iraq. President Prodi’s hosts underlined their wish to see the early establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, and the development of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) into a regional investment bank. FEMIP and the proposed Foundation are two institutions where the EU and the 12 Mediterranean Partners stand as equals. The Algerian and Tunisian sides expressed their concern at the risk of seeing more extremism emerge as a result of the international situation. President Prodi and his hosts agreed that the ‘Wider Europe’ initiative presented the EU and the Maghreb with a practical opportunity to demonstrate that there is no clash of civilisations between the two shores of the Mediterranean. The Commission President pointed out that some specific added value for the Maghreb could be fed into the ‘Wider Europe – Neighbourhood’ initiative using the Agadir Process for trade related aspects, and the Arab Maghreb Union for political issues. In addition, Mr Prodi recalled the importance of reforming the judiciary and ensuring respect for human rights. The speeches delivered by the Commission President in Algeria and Tunisia have been published in the original French as Euromed Reports No 55 and 56 respectively.
* The Policy Dialogue and Co-ordination Committee of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) held its 2nd meeting on 3 April in Istanbul at Ministerial level. The Committee assessed progress made since the establishment of FEMIP, an autonomous facility created last October within the European Investment Bank (EIB), noting that some € 1.5 billion were approved by the EIB’s Board over that period. Participants also discussed the Facility’s future prospects, and decided that FEMIP would work towards facilitating access to finance by private sector firms through various means. Those include increased provision of long term credit, promotion of financial leases and guarantee funds, development of new products for equity and quasi-equity financing, and technical assistance to the banking sector. The meeting was opened by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and co-chaired by Turkish Minister for Economic Affairs Ali Babacan, and EIB President Philippe Maystadt. Participants represented all 12 Mediterranean Partners, the 15 EU Member States, the European Commission, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the European Central Bank. A further assessment is expected to be made by the EU late this year in order to facilitate a decision whether FEMIP will remain a facility within the EIB or become an EIB subsidiary.
* European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten on 2 April met a group of journalists from three Mashrak countries participating in the latest information visit of the MEDA funded Euromed Visitors’ Programme taking place in Brussels from 29 March to 5 April. The group includes print media, news agency and TV journalists, 4 of them from Lebanon, 2 from Jordan, and 2 from Syria. The Visitors’ Programme aims at making journalists and NGO representatives from Mediterranean Partners more familiar with EU institutions, policies, and programmes, with a focus on the Barcelona Process, the Middle East Peace Process, and the MEDA Programme.
* The MED Committee met on 2 April in Brussels. Committee members gave a favourable opinion on the MEDA Regional Financing Plan 2003 (€ 32 million), and the Support Fund to the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP - € 25 million). See below for details. The Financing Plan 2003 for the West Bank & Gaza Strip was also given a favourable opinion. The Committee discussed the mid-term review of the National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) 2002-2004, and gave a favourable opinion on small changes proposed as regards the NIPs for Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Syria. Total amounts earmarked for those countries remain unchanged. In addition, the European Commission informed the Committee on some ongoing MEDA Regional Programmes, and Support Programmes to the implementation of Association Agreements.
* The EU-Mashrak Partenariat, which was scheduled to take place from 11 to 13 April in Damascus has been postponed to 23-25 October in view of the situation created by the war on Iraq. This partnership event will bring together business representatives from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the EU.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* MEDA REGIONAL FINANCING PLAN 2003
The Regional Financing Plan comprises 5 programmes. The Middle East Peace Projects (MEPP) 2003 (€ 10 million) are a direct follow-up of the previous MEPP frameworks. They are to provide funding for the strengthening of civil societies in the Middle East, for enhancing peace initiatives on both the Israeli and Palestinian/Arab side, and to promote and explore ideas for a peaceful solution to the conflict. Euromed Heritage III (€ 10 million) is designed to promote heritage common to both shores of the Mediterranean as a tool for policies of tolerance, peace and stability. The programme will support 4 projects selected under the Euromed Heritage II Call for Proposals, and aimed at increasing the Partners’ capacity in managing and enhancing their own heritage. ‘Training of public administrations’ (€ 6 million) will support the training of over 400 experts from public administrations in the Mediterranean Partners, and help set up a network of training institutes oriented towards public administrations. The training will address EU related matters. The project ‘Support to the implementation of the south-south sub-regional Free Trade Area of Agadir’ (€ 4 million) will provide assistance to the countries concerned (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia) in the areas of customs and sectoral studies, and to their common organisational structure. Awareness raising activities will also get support under the project. The ‘Euro-Mediterranean Water Information System’ project (EMWIS – € 2 million), which started in 1999, will be continued for a further 3 year period, focusing on assisting the Mediterranean Partners to organise their internal water information systems (Intranet). It is co-financed by France, Italy, and Spain.
* SUPPORT FUND TO FEMIP
The Support Fund to FEMIP is designed to fund technical assistance activities complementing EIB investment operations from identification to implementation, such as feasibility and other studies, training, monitoring, and advisory activities. € 19 million will benefit Mediterranean Partners other than Turkey and the remaining € 6 million has been earmarked for Turkey.
* WIDER EUROPE AND INDUSTRIAL MODERNISATION IN TUNIS
Acceding and candidate countries getting ready for EU membership will share their experience of free trade with Mediterranean Partners at an International Conference scheduled to take place on 10 and 11 April in Tunis. The Conference is organised on the initiative of the European Commission Delegation in Tunisia in co-operation with Tunisia’s Ministry for Industry and Energy. It is entitled ‘Free Trade Area: the Challenge of Competitiveness and Industrial Modernisation’, and it takes on board the activities and achievements of the MEDA funded Euro Tunisie Entreprise (ETE) Programme of support to the upgrading of Tunisian small and medium-sized enterprises. For further information and registration please contact the Conference secretariat (tel: + 216 71 847092, e-mail: email@example.com ) or the European Commission Delegation in Tunis (Daniela Cavini, tel: + 216 71 960 330, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
* LATEST ISSUE OF THE EGYPT NEWSLETTER
The latest issue (Volume 5 – Issue 4) of the newsletter published by the European Commission Delegation in Egypt has been released recently. The focus is on the EU-Egypt Association Agreement, EU Enlargement, and World Trade. It will soon be available from the Delegation website
Brussels,04 06 2003
European Union Redaction