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* The European Commission announced on 23rd June 2006 that it will make a contribution of €105 million to the Temporary International Mechanism for the Palestinians. This Mechanism, developed by the EU at the request of the Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) and endorsed by the European Council, will facilitate the direct delivery of assistance to the Palestinian people to meet basic needs, without the money passing to or through the PA government. The allocation covers all three “windows” of the Mechanism (health, utilities, social allowances) and technical assistance. It brings the total made available from the Community Budget so far this year to the Palestinian Territories to €259 million. The parts of the Mechanism dealing with health and utilities will be launched immediately, with the aim of starting payments to individuals by early July. The Commission is already working with partners to develop the programme to deliver social allowances to those in greatest need, which will start up as soon as practicable. More information: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/gaza/intro/index.htm or http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/mepp/index.htm To read the EC press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/831&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* "I am disturbed by reports of interruption of electricity supply including in vital services such as hospitals. Everything must be done to prevent the humanitarian situation worsening", European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated on 28 June 2006 with regard to the interruption of electricity supply and vital services in the Gaza Strip. She strongly condemned the kidnapping of an Israeli hostage on 26 June 2006 and appealed for its immediate release: "All sides need to consider their responsibilities extremely carefully. Those holding the hostage Cpl Gilad Shalit should release him immediately. This kind of act can only make things worse for the Palestinian people. It is unacceptable to seek political goals by such means. We look to the Israelis to act with prudence. We understand their outrage, but diplomatic efforts to free the soldier must be allowed to work." She also added that she hoped "the Israelis will respond to the latest events with restraint, paying particular attention to the need to avoid civilian casualties". The statement can be found in the section ‘other news’ on the link:

* Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy gave the following statement on 27 June 2006 after news of an agreement between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh: "I commend President Abbas's leadership. I hope that this agreement will ease inter-factional tensions that are so detrimental to the stability in the region and to the Palestinian people, by whose side we have always stood in difficult times. This agreement is not an end in itself but has to be the start of a process that will see the different factions commit themselves to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations. We stand ready to work with a Palestinian government committed to these principles. I welcome efforts that will create the widest possible consensus in support of the objectives of the roadmap."

* The sixth meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the EIB’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) took place in Tunis on 26 June, in conjunction with the second meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean ECOFIN Council. Held under the Austrian Presidency of the European Union, it was co-chaired by Mr Mohamed Nouri Jouini, Tunisian Minister of Development and International Cooperation, and Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President responsible for the Bank’s operations in the Mediterranean partner countries. The meeting assessed the results of the reinforced FEMIP and looked at its future prospects. Mr Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, and Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive presented the policy paper prepared jointly by the European Commission and the EIB on FEMIP’s activities since the Facility was set up in 2002 and on the operational and institutional improvements to be made. Mr Almunia placed special emphasis on strengthening the links with the Europe Neighbourhood Policy and increasing support for the development of the private sector, in his view the only way of helping to create the jobs needed in the region. Means of stepping up even further FEMIP support for the development of the partner countries will be examined by the Commission and the EIB with a view to submitting a proposal to the ECOFIN Council in the autumn. The Ministerial Committee’s next meeting is scheduled to take place in Cyprus in May 2007. In the meantime, FEMIP will hold a forum on the development of trans-Euro-Mediterranean transport networks during the final quarter of 2006. Another forum will be held during the first quarter of 2007 on remittances by Mediterranean migrants. Other issues to be dealt with by FEMIP in 2006-2007, as decided by the Ministerial Committee, are energy, tourism, microfinance, technology transfers and vocational training.
Press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=BEI/06/73&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Mr. Almunia's opening speech: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/411&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Additional information on the EIB's and FEMIP’s activities in the region and the meetings of the FEMIP Ministerial Committee and Committee of Experts: http://www.eib.org/lending/med/en/index.htm.

* The Preparatory Conference “Towards a Plan of Action on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society” which took place on 14-16 June in Rabat, Morocco, brought together 130 civil society organisations, governments, parliaments and donors' representatives of the Euromed partner countries. The objective of the conference was to review key aspects of women’s and gender issues under three major themes: women’s human rights as an essential component of democracy, women’s economic status and participation and social and cultural issues impacting upon women and gender relations in the region. The aim was to contribute to the preparation of a Plan of Action (2007-2011) to be endorsed by the Euromed Ministerial Conference taking place in Istanbul in November. To this end, a number of conclusions were reached for each theme. To guarantee women's rights, countries have been urged to ratify the CEDAW Optional Protocol while remaining reservations need to be removed. The legal framework governing the life of women in the Mediterranean countries should be unified and aligned with international commitments to ensure equality between men and women. As regards the link between democracy, development and equality, the need for reform and increased participation of women in political life was highlighted. To this end the role and networking capacities of civil society organisations across the region need to be improved. In the economic sector, better quantitative and qualitative indicators are needed on the participation of women, as well as gender-sensitive technical and vocational training to facilitate employment and entrepreneurship. Recommendations focused also on necessary reforms of social security systems and safety networks to make them more responsive to women's needs, costs of maternity, gender imbalances in pension systems, and EU integration policies with respect to migrant women. Under the third theme, it was suggested that governments enact effective policies and legislate forcefully to eradicate violence against women. The role of the judicial system, women's access to justice, support to victims of violence and training of police officers were also discussed. The participants emphasised the influence of the school system, the mass media and culture on reproducing gender stereotypes. Recommendations were made to revise school curricula and teaching materials, train teachers and journalists and develop programmes to reinforce a culture of equality. Finally, the important role and need for women's participation in peace building were put forward. The three general conclusions of the conference are: General need to improve data collection and develop sex-disaggregated statistics at regional, national and local levels; Gender equality issues should be more effectively mainstreamed throughout all policies, programmes and projects of the Euro-med partnership; A mechanism should be put in place to monitor the implementation of the Plan of Action to be adopted in the Istanbul Ministerial Conference. Documents related to the conference can be found on the following website: http://europa.eu.int:8082/comm/external_relations/euromed/women/index.htm


* construction of 23 Schools under The education Enhancement programme in Egypt
The Delegation of the European Commission in Egypt will finance the construction of 23 schools, comprising 240 classes, in nine governorates under the EC-funded Education Enhancement Programme. The new schools, which will be completed during the first quarter of 2007, will be funded with a total of €5 million, bringing to 148 the total number of schools built under the Education Enhancement Programme. This Programme is a joint Egyptian/European initiative funded by the EC since February 1999 for a total of €100 million. While the Programme will come to an end in December 2006, the EC plans another intervention in the education sector in the period of 2007-2013 which will probably also address the basic education sector. Its objectives are to increase access and equity, to improve the quality of student performance and to enhance system efficiency. On a policy level, the Programme has contributed to the Ministry of Education’s commitment to adopt a strategic planning and management approach aimed at improving the efficiency of education delivery. Meanwhile, the Delegation of the European Commission in Egypt recently financed the supply of 11,000 personal computers, auxiliary equipment and computer furniture for 1,000 primary and preparatory schools. More information: http://www.eu-delegation.org.eg/

* Train the Trainers Seminar: Development and Management of Training Programmes and Training Techniques Programme in Cyprus, 3 – 7 JULY 2006 This seminar will be held in the context of the “Regional Training and Consultancy Programme on Public Administration for the Mediterranean Partners”, which is financed by MEDA to provide training on European affairs to Civil Servants from the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East, while also envisaging the creation of a network of training centers in public administration between the Euro-Mediterranean Partners. It aims at facilitating and improving the preparation and implementation of training programmes, as well as bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of human resources development, training within the public administration, networking and the exchange of experience. For more information: www.eipa.nl

* AFKAR Conference in Beirut, Libanon, 23 June 2006. Under the theme "AFKAR I Programme: Results and Expectations", a conference was held in Beirut, on the results and activities of the AFKAR I bilateral programme funded by MEDA for the strengthening of the Lebanese civil society. The event was organised by the French association Emergences responsible of the technical assistance necessary for the implementation of the activities and projects of AFKAR I since January 2005. All parties and stakeholders presented a summary on the impact of this pilot programme and on future expectations, mainly with the launching of the AFKAR II programme. A documentary on the activities and impact of the projects implemented was also screened. The call for proposals of the AFKAR II Programme which aims at the strengthening of the civil society's capacities with respect to promoting citizen's political and social rights was also announced. The deadline for relevant proposals from NGOs is the 12th of September 2006. More information on the call for proposal for AFKAR II: http://www.dellbn.cec.eu.int/en/whatsnew/cp_afkar2_06.htm

* “International dimension of financial procedures; financial and economic criminality, in particular money laundering” - EuroMed Justice Programme.
The regional seminar about “Mechanisms and legal gaps allowing for opacity; recycling capital from criminal origin” was held in Ankara, Turkey from 12 to 15 June. It is the third seminar organised under topic 3 of the EuroMed Justice Programme financed by MEDA. This seminar permitted the analysis over a period of 4 days, of the problematic of the mechanisms and legal gaps allowing for opacity and the recycling of capital from criminal origin in the framework of money laundering, and study the different ways of anti-money laundering control like, for instance, the relevance of the third EU directive and other legal instruments, at national and international level, to combat this criminal phenomenon.

* Seven projects selected in first round of Anna Lindh Foundation Call for Proposals. The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures is seeking proposals for activities and initiatives that support intercultural dialogue in the 35 countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The last deadline to submit project proposals is 1 November 2006. In the first round of the Foundation’s Call for Proposals, seven projects were selected for funding: Crossing Borders Dialogue Among teachers" (Crossing Borders, Denmark); Education Leadership Workshop (Fundación Centro de Educación Superior en Oriente Medio, Spain); Euro-Med Film Festival (Al-Kasaba Theatre and Cinematheque, Palestine); Facilitating Youth Exchange in the Euro-Med Region (AFS Interkulturelle Begegnungen e. V., Germany); Med-Youth Creating a Sustainable Med-Future (Mediterranean SOS, Greece); Sténopé et le dialogue des jeunes artistes euro-méditerranéens (Association des Amis de la Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture de Metline, Tunisia); Mediterranean Food Educational Project (Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development, Greece). These projects correspond to three of the six themes of the 2006 call for proposals: EuroMed music and other cultural/artistic creation, EuroMed schools programme, and Summer schools/exchange programmes. Further information on the call for proposal is available at: http://www.euromedalex.org/En/Proposals.htm

* EuromedCafe’s Short film and Song CONTEST. The EuromedCafé web-site initiated by the Fondazione Laboratorio Mediterraneo with the support of the European Commission (External Relations Directorate-General) constitutes a forum of pictures and sounds to renew and boost dialogue and exchange between people from both sides of the Mediterranean. The Fondazione wants to encourage mutual understanding by means of pictures, music and a cinema of proximity secured by films via the Web. This year, for the 3rd short Web film contest “Another Look”, the selection will be based on synopses inspired by texts and on short films already produced on the theme of intercultural dialogue. The deadlines for sending the synopses and short films are 15 September 2006 and 2 October 2006. For the 2nd Web song contest, “Other songs”, a maximum of ten songs on the theme of intercultural dialogue will be selected. The deadline for submitting songs is 15 October 2006. It will be possible to download the winning films and songs at www.euromedcafe.org. This site also contains information on how to apply for the competition. For further information: coordination@euromedcafe.org
TV5 MONDE “UNE FOIS PAR MOIS” on Thursday 29 June 2006 at 10:15 p.m. After the first part of the documentary, which will be devoted to the general elections in Mexico, the programme of 29 June shall turn its attention to Euro-Mediterranean relations. Financed by the MEDA Regional Information and Communication Programme, the “Une fois par mois” (“Once a Month”) 90 minutes programme, which will be presented by Christine Ockrent and Xavier Lambrechts, proposes to reflect on the theme of cooperation and co-development. How can living standards in the countries of the Southern Mediterranean be improved? How can the migratory flows arriving in Europe and depriving their countries of origin of their lifeblood be curbed? The case of Morocco will be examined by a series of two reports on projects funded by the European Union and will be the subject of a debate during the second half of the programme. The first one will look at the renovation of rural schools in the Agadir region and the second will examine the employment of women in Argan tree cooperatives, especially in the province of Essaouira. Broadcasting times on TV5MONDE Orient: Thursday 29/06 at 11:30 p.m. (Cairo time) and on TV5MONDE Europe: Friday 30/06 at 11:30 p.m. (Paris time).

* Winners of the 2006 Euromed Heritage Journalistic Award. This international press competition on the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage was organized within the regional MEDA-funded “Euromed Heritage Programme” in collaboration with UNESCO, the International Federation of Journalists and with the special participation of ANSAmed. This year entries had subjects embracing many different fields such as architecture, music, poetry, and monuments. Ms. Razan Nasser was chosen by the international jury for her article “Losing Samad” published in the Jordanian JO Magazine, while Mr. Damiano Laterza wrote the article “Storia di Ippaso il matematico dell'irrazionale”, published on the Italian daily Il Quotidiano della Basilicata. A special mention of the jury was assigned to Mr. Amine Esseghir (Algeria) for his article “Le Chaabi dans les textes” published in the Algerian magazine Les Débats and to Ms. Annalisa Monfreda for her article “Il canto libero degli Arberesh” published in the Italian magazine Geo. The prizes will be awarded at a special ceremony during the Euromed Heritage Forum in Istanbul, Turkey on October 27th 2006. Along with the Euromed Heritage Journalistic Award, a special prize by ANSAmed, the international press agency for the Mediterranean basin, was also awarded to Ms. Nadia Ben Sellam (Morocco) for her article “Tetouan - will the white dove recover its heritage and historical monuments” published in Al Alam. Winning articles available on www.euromedheritage.net/award/index.htm

Brussels,07 10 2006
European Union
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