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Euromed News

INSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

* Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Bedjaoui met in Brussels on 16 May during the first Association Council meeting with Algeria. The Council endorsed the political decision to establish the work programme for the implementation of the various sections of the Association agreement which entered into force on 1 September 2005. The meeting also identified possible areas for cooperation, among which administrative reforms, upgrading of the economy, movement of persons, education, research, energy, and the fight against terrorism. Within the framework of the bilateral cooperation, the Council noted the good conditions in which the trade section of the Association agreement is implemented. The Council also noted that, since the launching of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Algeria has benefited from an overall amount of about EUR 560 million intended to finance technical assistance projects to support socio-economic development, the private sector and structural adjustment. Programming for the period 2007-2010 (in the process of finalisation) should be able to use the synergies brought by the various financial instruments available both at a bilateral and regional level. http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/May/1605plassnikalgerien.html?null

* “The Palestinian Authority is a partner for peace”. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in a formal sitting on 16 May. President Josep Borrell presented Mahmoud Abbas as “the umbilical cord linking to the path of peace” in the region, and as “the only actor able to discuss with all the parties involved”. The President of the European Parliament said Europe fully respected the results of January's legislative elections, even though these had caused serious concerns in the international community. President Abbas asked for support of the international community. “The new government must be given the chance to adapt to the basic requirements of the international community. Stopping assistance to the Palestinian Authority will exacerbate the deteriorating economic and social conditions, and will weaken the network of efficient and working government ministries, administrations and institutions that the countries of the European Union have played a vital role in building and developing”.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/030-8223-136-05-20-903-20060512IPR08056-16-05-2006-2006-false/default_en.htm

* Council conclusions on Middle East Peace Process adopted on 15th May in Brussels. The Council “welcomed the willingness of the Middle East Quartet to endorse a temporary international mechanism, the objective of which is direct delivery and supervision of assistance to the Palestinian people. The EU is working urgently to develop such a mechanism which as a matter of priority will be aimed at contributing to meet basic needs including health services.” It will consult international financial institutions and other key partners, and invite donors to actively join the effort to establish the mechanism as soon as possible. The Council conclusion online: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/gena/89609.pdf

* Seminar on “Racism, Xenophobia and the Media: Towards respect and understanding of all religions and cultures” on 22-23 May 2006. In 2004, the Euromed and the Media initiative highlighted xenophobia and racism as one of the key areas for attention and action in its engagement with leading media personnel from the region. A trilogy of regional conferences in 2005 and a related task force meeting in February 2006 outlined possible initiatives to improve mutual understanding and respect in this sector. This seminar is financed by the MEDA programme and jointly organised by the Austrian Presidency of the EU, the European Commission and the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and in consultation with Euro-Mediterranean partners. Participants (media practitioners, civil society associations, faith-based organisations, institutional and policy-makers) will be able to discuss and suggest actions and activities which can be taken forward in a positive practical way to tackle the shared problem of racism or hate discourse and the issue of religious and cultural diversity in the media. The press is invited to participate at the plenary session and at the press conference.

* Money laundering and terrorist financing: Member States agree to Commission draft for 'level 2' implementing measures. The Committee for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, a regulatory committee composed of Member States and chaired by the European Commission, agreed on 10 May 2006 to the Commission's formal draft for technical measures implementing the Third Directive on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. The Directive was adopted in October 2005 (IP/05/682) and is to be implemented at the latest in December 2007. The proposed technical measures were formally presented to the European Parliament and to the Committee mid-April 2006. Further information is available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/company/financial-crime/index_en.htm

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* Important step in Euro-Egyptian relations: the launch of the first two twinning projects. The Egyptian public authorities have requested direct co-operation with a counterpart in any of the 25 Member States in the areas of tourism and maritime transport. These two projects - for the benefit of the Egyptian Tourism Authority (Ministry of Tourism) and the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Safety (Ministry of Transport) - confirm Egypt’s willingness to reform and to approximate EU legislation and best practices. Preparation of these projects, to be followed by others, has been done in record time since the relevant Financing Agreement was just signed last December. This is the first materialisation of the Neighbourhood Policy for Egypt, whose Action Plan is soon to be approved.

* First activity of the “Europe for Mediterranean Journalists” project. Financed by MEDA und the regional Information and communication programme, the “Europe for Mediterranean Journalists” project aims to raise awareness of EU activity in the Mediterranean countries by empowering journalists to have a greater, more informed knowledge when they present Euromed partnership-related information to their audiences. It will also enable the creation of a network among journalists in the region and reinforce co-operation among media. Through conferences, workshops and training sessions, the 18-month long project will give journalists from the Mediterranean the tools and understanding to make the best use of the partnership-related information. The project’s first event will consist of a seminar on May 29-31 in Brussels to which sixty editors or directors of the main Mediterranean media organisations have been invited. Among other activities, they will be able to participate in a special session with leading journalists, broadcasters and publishers from Europe to discuss recent events and their impact on the work of media in Europe and in the Mediterranean region. They will also meet senior European Commission leaders and officials dealing with EU-MEDA relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

* Medina Project: Final Symposium on 27-31 May 2006 in Tunis. The MEDINA project aimed at promoting cultural tourism in the Mediterranean area through the design and the development of a Portal and of national websites for 9 of the Mediterranean partners. The symposium marks the end of the MEDINA project implemented within the framework of the regional MEDA-funded EUMEDIS programme and it will be the occasion to present the activities carried out and the results obtained. It further offers the possibility to discuss the future of cultural tourism in the Mediterranean as well as common strategies. A Round Table Session will be open to the public on 29th May 2006 in Tunis. For information: www.imednet.it or contact: silvia.dambrosi@imednet.it

* EUMEDIS Programme Final conference. After five years of sustained activities aimed at developing the Euro-Mediterranean Information Society, the MEDA-funded regional EUMEDIS programme is drawing to a close. Some 21 projects in four priority sectors have yielded tangible results since the programme was launched in 1999. EUMEDIS is hosting its Final International Conference in Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt, on 11-12 June 2006. The Conference will take place under the auspices of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Egypt, which was formed to facilitate Egypt’s transition into the global Information Society in close cooperation with government entities, civil society and the private sector. The conference will promote pilot project outputs to authorities and investors, raising the projects’ profile and providing opportunities for continued efforts in this field. All EUMEDIS stakeholders will be present and local and international policy makers will support and guide the conference activities. For more information and online registration, please visit: www.eumedisconference.org or http://www.eumedis.net/en/news/id/333

* Training for young professionals in theatrical film distribution. Within the framework of the regional MEDA programme Euromed Audiovisuel II, the “Generation Big Screen 2006” training aims at enhancing the skills of 45 young professionals from the South Mediterranean in the field of quality cinema distribution. The training consists of a 10-day seminar of lectures, case studies, workshops and screenings conducted by top-rank cinema professionals from the South Mediterranean and Europe. The training will mainly focus on film programming, animation and communication, action towards kids and schools, management and project development, and network action. Two sessions are planned: one in English which will take place during the Mostra del Cinema Festival in Venice (August 28 – September 7, 2006) and one in French during the Films Days in Carthage (mid-November 2006). Application guidelines: http://www.art-et-essai.org/cicae/formation/mediterraneenne_en.aspx

* Expanded Europe Day events in Israel. On 23rd May the EC Delegation in Israel will hold a Gala Europe Day Concert (postponed from May 9 for technical reasons) in Tel Aviv in the presence of the President of Israel, Mr. Moshe Katzav. On this occasion the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will play Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The concert follows a series of Europe Day events including a series of debates at 8 Israeli universities between EU ambassadors and students; the publication of a Hebrew language guide to studying in the EU; a special press supplement on EU-Israel connection; and a football tournament in which local teams donned the colours of the 25 Member States. Commenting on this year's Europe Day celebrations, Head of EC Delegation Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal said the events reflect “the excellent status of our bilateral relations and the great importance that the EU attaches to its growing partnership with Israel”.

Brussels,05 22 2006
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