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Euromed News

INSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

* At the MED Committee on 13 June in Brussels, the member States gave a favourable opinion on National Financing Plans (NFP) 2006 for Jordan and Morocco as well as on Part II and Part III of the Neighbourhood Regional Financing Plan 2006 (RFP). The NFP 2006 for Jordan consists of three projects for a total of EUR 67 million, in line with the Jordan National Indicative Programme 2005-2006. The NFP for Morocco consists of four programmes for a total amount of EUR 123 million among which 2/3 are dedicated to an ambitious support programme for fiscal reform. Part II of the Neighbourhood Regional Financing Plan 2006 for a total of EUR 14,6 million, is dedicated to the Euromed Cooperation and maritime safety and prevention of pollution from ships (SAFEMED II), the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS II) and the support to the Euro-Mediterranean energy market. Part III of the PFR, composed of a programme for justice and home affairs, is based on the PIR MEDA 2005-2006 totalling EUR 45 million. The first part of the Regional Financing Plan 2006 (Part I) dedicated to a programme on avian influenza had previously been given the green light in emergency by the MED Committee.

* The European Commission adopted on 8 June proposals to strengthen the Union’s role as a global actor. In its communication – Europe in the World: Some Practical Proposals for Greater Coherence, Effectiveness and Visibility – it examines how to strengthen the EU’s external action without changes to the existing Treaty. The proposals will be presented to the forthcoming European Council. President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, welcomed adoption of the paper: “There is an expectation among our international partners for Europe to assume its global responsibilities. The EU can have greater impact by acting collectively, rather than as a sum of its component parts.” Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner added: “If the EU is to punch its weight in the world we must harness the synergies between all the actors involved.” The paper is a response to last October’s Hampton Court meeting of Heads of State and Government, which decided that the EU should take steps to reinforce its external action, proposing practical steps in terms of better strategic planning, improved cooperation between Commission and Council, and relations with Member States
http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/752&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* The European Commission on 7 June 2006 adopted a communication taking stock of the GALILEO satellite radio navigation programme, which is expected by 2010 to provide optimum coverage throughout the world. The communication, which outlines the key components of this ambitious European project and includes an updated timetable for its implementation, is being forwarded to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Committee of the Regions. “Galileo is perfectly in line with the Lisbon growth strategy,” said Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot. “It is the largest industrial project ever organised on a European scale, the first European public-private partnership, the first European public infrastructure.” The installation of the space and ground infrastructure began in 2005 with the launch of the first experimental satellite, and the systems concessions contract is expected to be finalised in 2007. International cooperation is an essential component of GALILEO, which is designed for worldwide use, and cooperation agreements have been concluded with China, Israel, the United States, Ukraine, India, Morocco and South Korea, and others are in preparation. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/744&format=HTML...

* Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations speaking at the European Parliament on 1 June 2006 welcomed the De Keyser report on Women in Peace Building saying it recognises the complexity of the issue. Ms Ferrero-Walder said “women should not be seen only as victims but also as key actors promoting war or peace.” She added the report reflects the Commission’s two-pronged approach to promoting gender equality. “First we take on board gender concerns in all the policies and programmes (mainstreaming),” she said. “Second, we fund specific projects to promote women. I am convinced this approach will remain valid in the future. Both mainstreaming and specific actions will continue to be necessary to fully mobilise women’s potential as peace builders.” She pointed out that at the moment the Commission is training women in peaceful conflict resolution in Rwanda and strengthening women’s active participation in peace processes around the world and also supporting several projects specifically focusing on women in countries affected by armed conflict. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/342&format+...

* The 10th Euro-Mediterranean Economic Transition Conference held in Brussels on 6 June 2006, emphasised the importance of bringing the EU’s neighbours closer under the European Neighbourhood Policy in a true partnership for reform and modernisation, which will give them a stake in the EU internal market. European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, spoke of extending the prosperity, stability, and security enjoyed by the EU’s members to its neighbours. She said the ENP complements the Association Agreements of the Barcelona Process by strengthening bilateral relations and offering individual countries the opportunity to build a qualitatively better relationship with the EU through jointly agreed Action Plans signed with each country. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/346&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* MPs from Europe and the Arab world, members of the Political Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), meeting in Brussels on 7 June 2006, called for the swift creation of the planned international fund to provide aid to the Palestinian people, based on the European Commission blueprint. They argue that the decision to suspend direct aid to the Palestinian Authority had been taken too hastily, that the “temporary international mechanism” would be a progressive system with funds released according to the money available, first to the sectors most in need, such as hospitals and schools, after which funds would be used to pay energy bills, and finally social payments could be made to sections of the population currently without any income. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/030-8795-158-06-23-903-20060607IPR08794-07-06-2006-2006-false/default_en.htm

* The European Parliament’s Committee on Political Affairs, Security and Human Rights, at its extraordinary meeting in Brussels on 7 June 2006, expressed its deep concern at the deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and financial situation in the Palestinian territories caused by the suspension of aid. The Committee called for the continuation of this aid in its entirety, for the restitution of customs duties and taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and echoed the call made by the Quartet for the rapid establishment of a temporary aid mechanism.

* “Europe’s deep ties with Israel and its intricate web of relations” was highlighted by Ursula Plassnik, Austrian Foreign Minister and President of the EU-Israel Association Council at the council’s sixth meeting on 13 June 2006. After meeting with her Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, she said “our relations are characterised by solidarity and a willingness to lend our partner in the region our support.” She added, “what we have in common is our mutual interest in a peaceful and stable two-state solution. “ She cited the “shocking incident” on Gaza beach, which cost the lives of many Palestinians, and implored both sides to exercise restraint. The Foreign Minister referred to the EU's efforts to develop an international payment mechanism to support the Palestinian people. She said this support in a difficult humanitarian situation was linked to a clear message to Hamas: renounce violence, recognise Israel's right to exist and respect existing agreements: "We do not want to punish the Palestinians because of their election, but strongly encourage Hamas to reconsider.” and also referred to the EU’s efforts to develop an international payment mechanism to support the Palestinian people. http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/June/1306Israel.html

* Joint 2nd EuroMed ECOFIN/6th FEMIP Ministerial Meetings to take place in Tunis on 25-26 June, 2006. This meeting will take place under the Austrian Presidency of the European Union, hosted by the Tunisian authorities, and will build on the successful joint EuroMed ECOFIN (Economic and Finance Ministers)/FEMIP Ministerial Meeting held last year in Morocco. Participation is expected to include the Finance Ministers of the 25 EU Member States and the 10 Mediterranean Partner Countries, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the main European and international institutions active in the region for economic and financial matters. The ECOFIN session will review broad economic developments in the region, with a focus on fiscal performance, and the FEMIP Ministerial session will assess FEMIP’s performance and look at its prospects.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* Twinning and TAIEX: ‘Institution Building Days’ in Brussels on 8th -9th June.
Forty-five countries have participated in the ‘Institution Building Days’ on Twinning and TAIEX which took place on the 8th and 9th June 2006.

* This conference, organised jointly by the EuropeAid Co-operation Office and DG Enlargement, aimed at providing a platform for discussion and exchange of experiences between the Twinning and TAIEX National Contact Points of the EU Member States and the Beneficiary Countries (Countries benefiting from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, PHARE, CARDS, Transition Facility and Russia). This event -and the lively debates that it fuelled- provided an exceptional opportunity for the analysis of future perspectives for the implementation of both instruments (Twinning and TAIEX) and their role in the approximation to EU policies and standards. For more information: stephanie.palombi@ec.europa.eu

* Signature of the Euromed Youth Financing Agreement in Lebanon.
In the framework of the process of decentralisation of Phase III of the Euro-Med Youth regional programme, the first Youth Financing Agreement has been signed in Lebanon between the European Union and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The team (INJEP France, rcbs@injep.fr) appointed to support the national authorities in charge of the Youth programme in the process of decentralisation, and to ensure a regional coherence and visibility of the programme has already been to Lebanon and to Egypt in order to meet the National Units responsible to implement the Euro-Med Youth programme. For further information on the programme, please contact Claire Kupper : claire.kupper@ec.europa.eu

* EUMEDIS Conference, 10th June 2006, Alexandria, Egypt. H.E. Dr. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, and H.E. Dr. Klaus Ebermann, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Commission in Egypt, will inaugurate the two-day EUMEDIS final International Conference entitled “Closing the digital gap in the Mediterranean Region” at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The Conference will be the occasion to present the achievements of the 22 projects carried out under the EUMEDIS programme, funded by the European Commission under MEDA at a total of EUR 65 million. EUMEDIS (EUro MEDiterranean Information Society) Programme - launched in 2000 in order to support cooperation in this field among countries in the Mediterranean Area - is the largest initiative funded by the European Commission for the development and use of advanced ICT tools in the region. More than 300 participants from 24 countries around the Mediterranean will work together in four workshops dedicated to major issues of the ICT environment, from the improvement of intercultural dialogue to the benefits of this technology for the population, from the new aspects of intellectual property rights to the interaction and collaboration with private investors. ICT experts, local and international policy makers, private enterprises and NGOs will also attend the Conference. More information: http://www.eu-delegation.org.eg/en/News/338.asp

* « Rivages » - Radio France International (RFI) Sunday 18 june 2006 at 18h40 (Brussles time). The radio programme “Rivages” is broadcasted by RFI in the framework of the regional MEDA programme on Information and Communication. It aims to be an area of dialogue between Europe and the Mediterranean countries as well as a point of meeting for those who work towards this partnership. This Sunday, the radio programme presented by Brice Barillon will cover “Defense and Security in the Mediterranea”. To listen or download the programme: www.rfi.fr/radiofr/emissions/072/accueil_55.asp (in French).

* “The MEDINA Portal - Window on Cultural Tourism of the Mediterranean Basin”. H.E. Tijani HADDAD, Minister of Tourism of Tunisia, and H.E. Marc Pierini, Ambassador, Head of Delegation of the European Commission in Tunisia, congratulated the MEDINA project for its positive results on the occasion of the final symposium held in Tunis from 28 to 31 May. The project has been implemented within the framework of the regional MEDA-funded EUMEDIS programme with the aim to promote cultural tourism in the Mediterranean area through the design and the development of a portal and of national websites. Representatives of the projects’ partner institutions, the Ministries of Tourism and of Culture of 14 Euro-Mediterranean countries, contributed to the different panels. The symposium was well covered by the Tunisian media and some 120 people attended the public sessions. The event was the occasion to officially present the Portal, the nine National Web Sites of the Mediterranean Partner Countries, the tourist guide and the CD-rom aiming at promoting cultural tourism in the Euro-Mediterranean basin. For more information: www.imednet.it or contact: silvia.dambrosi@imednet.it

Brussels,06 19 2006
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