* QUARTET ON MIDDLE EAST
The Quartet members (UN, US, EU and Russia) met in New York to discuss developments in the Middle East on September 20. In a statement issued after the meeting of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations and ENP Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Quartet stressed the “urgent need to make progress towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East” and expressed its concern at “the grave crisis in Gaza and the continued stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.” It welcomed the efforts of the Palestinian President to form a national unity government and noted that the resumption of transfer of tax and customs revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority would have a significance impact on the Palestinian economy.
* EU MIDDLE EAST POLICY
“The situation on the ground in the Middle East is deteriorating and urgent measures are required to alleviate the situation of the Palestinian people,” Finnish Foreign Minister and EU Council President, Erkki Tuomioja to the UN Security Council on September 21. He noted that the European Union had mobilised more resources than ever before and had implemented the Temporary International Mechanism, thus allowing substantial resources to be channelled directly to the Palestinian people. The President repeated the EU’s call on Israel to resume transfers of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues and urged the parties to take concrete steps to implement their obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access.
* EU FOREIGN POLICY
“The EU is a global player, with a population of almost half a billion across 25 countries, accounting for a quarter of world income, over a fifth of world trade and some 60% of global development assistance,” External Relations and ENP Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a speech entitled ‘The EU: A Global Power?’ at the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and Texas A&M University EU Center of Excellence on September 25. She noted that in both Europe and the US, “Large majorities agree on the importance of international terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, immigration, the global spread of disease, global warming, the growing power of China and violence and instability in Iraq.” She also referred to European efforts at peacekeeping in Asia, Africa and the Middle East., combating terrorism and promoting sustainable development.
* EU ON WMD AND DISARMAMENT
“The proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery is potentially the greatest threat to global security, and the spread of missile technology adds a further element of concern,” Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto, Permanent Representative of Finland, told the UN Conference on Disarmament on behalf of the EU. “The EU is guided by its commitment to uphold, implement and also further strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements,” he said, adding that “the EU Strategy against Proliferation of WMD commits the EU to act with resolve, using all instruments and policies at its disposal, to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate proliferation programmes of concern world-wide.”
* LEBANESE PM AND EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told the European Parliament that “Europe can play a unique role in the Middle East and we look forward to this role being strengthened.” He stressed that it was time to tackle the root causes of the conflicts in the Middle East, rather than just the symptoms. Speaking to a special open meeting of the Conference of Presidents on September 27, the Lebanese Prime Minister gave his account of the causes, conduct and consequences of this summer's war. Welcoming the Lebanese leader, EP President Josep Borrell noted that the European Parliament had been one of the first bodies to call for a ceasefire and for a peace keeping force with strong European component.
* PAYMENT OF ALLOWANCES TO PALESTINIANS
Through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), the European Commission has begun paying social allowances to 40,000 of the neediest Palestinian families, identified from those normally supported through the social welfare scheme of the Palestinian Authority. They will receive €270 each. “The TIM is helping to meet the most urgent needs of the Palestinian people, and following the Quartet decision, we will be able to do even more,” said Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, adding that “to make a difference, we will need new donors to come forward to support the TIM. But to really tackle the economic gridlock in the Palestinian Territories, we need both parties to implement the Agreement on Access and Movement and the Israelis to resume transfers of tax and customs revenue that belong to the Palestinians.”
* EURO-MEDITERRANEAN ENERGY FORUM
Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomed the positive results of the Euro-Mediterranean Forum convened by the European Commission in Brussels. "The energy cooperation between the EU and the countries of the Southern Mediterranean represents a core contribution to the enhanced energy security in the Euro-Mediterranean region," he said on September 21. Over €55 million from the MEDA budget have been allocated to projects in the region over the past eight years to support the gradual integration of the Euro-Med energy markets. In addition, loans for nearly €2 billion have been given by the European Investment Bank to support energy infrastructure priority projects, notably to complete electricity and gas links in the region.
* EURO-MEDITERRANEAN CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS FOR INDUSTRY
Industry Ministers from the EU and Mediterranean partner countries agreed on deepening economic cooperation, particularly in four areas: economic integration and market access, competitiveness and SMEs, innovation and investment. During the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers for Industry, in Rhodes the ministers confirmed their commitment to establish a mutually beneficial Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area by 2010 and explored how to take advantage of the ENP and the ENPI, which will have a higher budget than previous instruments, thus increasing support to Mediterranean partners.
“Modernising our economies is necessary to enable each member of the EuroMed group to face the challenges of globalisation and to benefit from the opportunities it affords more effectively,” Finnish Minister and EU Council President, Mauri Pekkarinen, stated at the Opening session of the 6th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Industry, on September 21 he added that, “deepening economic integration between the EU and the Mediterranean countries - alongside south-south regional integration - will form one of the key objectives over the coming years.” The minister gave the energy sector as a concrete example of co-operation. http://www.eu2006.fi/news_and_documents/speeches/vko38/en_GB/168850/. Günter Verheugen, EC Vice-President responsible for Enterprise and Industry, told the Conference that the European Neighbourhood Policy was a key priority for the EU which shared the same objectives and mutual ambitions of prosperity, peace and stability as its Mediterranean partners and was confronted with the same challenges. Speaking on ‘New perspectives for the Euro-Mediterranean economic cooperation under the European Neighbourhood Policy’, the Vice-President presented what had been achieved so far and explained how economic cooperation could be further reinforced to meet the challenges of globalisation. He reiterated the EC’s commitment to the ENP and stressed that the ENP does not replace the Euro Mediterranean Partnership.http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/523&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en Günter Verheugen, also addressed ‘The Challenge of Textiles in Globalisation: Assessment and Recommendations.’ He noted that “There has been a decrease of textile imports from the Mediterranean, but this decrease has, for most Mediterranean partners, only been a slight one… we have been largely able to stabilise and maintain our trade and industrial cooperation in the area of textiles and clothing.” Warning that the pressure from China and other Asian countries would continue, he said the EU’s goal as policy makers was to ensure the right framework conditions for business. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/522&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
* EURO-MED AGRICULTURAL TRADE
Trade between the EU and the Mediterranean has a very firm base and strong further potential, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, told the 2nd EuroMed Conference on Agriculture on September 29. Outlining the opportunities and challenges of a Euro-Mediterranean agricultural policy, she recalled that the EU is the largest buyer of agricultural products from the Mediterranean, while 37% of the Mediterranean area's agricultural imports come from the EU. “Clearly, business is good,” the Commissioner said, “but we are committed to making it better: under the Barcelona Declaration, we are of course aiming to build a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010.”
* MIGRATION AND ASYLUM
The European Commission has adopted the Aeneas 2006 Work Programme for co-financing actions to support to third countries in their efforts to ensure more effective management of migration flows. On September 21, it was announced that €45 million will be allocated this year to actions supporting dialogue and cooperation on migration and asylum issues with the countries bordering on the enlarged EU and in other regions where asylum issues are acute. ENP Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said, “Aeneas is a very useful instrument to strengthen cooperation between the EU, third countries and international organisations dealing with migration.” The selection of the actions to be funded under this annual work programme will mainly be made through a call for proposals which was published on EuropeAid's website on 14 September and will remain opened until 7 November 2006.
EU interior ministers discussed EU border management strategy and measures against terrorism and organised crime at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) ministerial meeting in Tampere on September 21. Finnish Interior Minister Kari Rajamäki told the meeting that the current crisis over illegal immigration in the Mediterranean region meant that “countries of origin of illegal immigration should be persuaded to cooperate, because that would allow our border guards to work as effectively as possible.” He also said that “Citizens expect the EU to strengthen security. EU Member States must be able to remove barriers to effective cooperation between security authorities.” http://www.eu2006.fi/news_and_documents/press_releases/vko38/en_GB/168841/ "The crisis in the Mediterranean has demonstrated the importance of external relations in combating illegal immigration,” Finnish Interior Minister and EU Council President, Kari Rajamäki, said on the first day of the meeting. He called for collective action to assist southern EU member states facing illegal migration, as well as the introduction of measures enabling the EU to tackle illegal immigration. Really effective measures require countries of origin to cooperate, either by discouraging illegal movement or at least by readmitting their own citizens and citizens of other countries transiting the country concerned, he said.
It is of the utmost importance that all Member States of the Union continue working together in a spirit of solidarity, not least to assist the southern Member States most affected today by illegal migration from Africa. This was one of the messages delivered by EC Vice President Franco Frattini, responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security to the European Parliament on September 27. Speaking on “Management of Migration Flows”, he said that efforts in the fight against terrorism at EU level needed to focus on key areas such as fighting radicalisation and recruitment, the misuse of the Internet by terrorists, the prevention and detection of the misuse of explosives, the protection of critical infrastructures, bio-preparedness and transport security.
* INTERPARLIAMENTARY MEETING DEBATES IMMIGRATION
Migration and how to deal with it were among the main topics discussed at a two-day meeting bringing together MEPs from the Civil Liberties Committee and representatives of all EU national parliaments on October 3-4. “Migration policy is linked to development issues; the fight against illegal migration should go hand in hand with policy in the field of integration," said MEP Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, FR), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee. Finnish Home Affairs Minister and EU Council President, Kari Rajamäki, agreed on the need for a "holistic approach", involving the countries of origin and transit, and warned that "the return of illegal immigrants will be one of our key tools… We cannot tolerate the arrival of 600,000 illegal immigrants in Europe every year". http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/019-11253-276-10-40-902-20061002IPR11235-03-10-2006-2006-false/default_en.htm Closing the session, EC Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini, said that in the face of the terrorist threat, “we need to respond with the strength of democracy.”For his part, EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator, Gijs de Vries, said Europe’s purpose in fighting terrorism is to defend its citizens’ liberties, chief among them their right to live. We could only win the “hearts and minds” of Muslims, he said, if we respected common principles – among them the right to privacy and the respect for prisoners’ rights. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/019-11254-277-10-40-902-20061002IPR11236-04-10-2006-2006-false/default_en.htm
* FIGHTING DISCRIMINATION
In order to combat direct and indirect forms of discrimination, we need to strengthen the identification of discrimination, raise awareness on rights and obligations, and develop measures to prevent discrimination both in a national context and transnationally, said Finnish Minister of Labour and EU Council President, Tarja Filatov. She was speaking on October 4 at a European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) European Round Table Conference, focusing on racial discrimination as a critical barrier to integration. “The link between attitudes and integration has to be emphasised, and integration seen as a two-way process, in which both the attitudes of immigrants and majority population have an impact on the integration process,” the Minister said.
* SAKHAROV PRIZE 2006
Ghassan Tueni, a Lebanese journalist and diplomat, is among the three shortlisted candidates for the 2006 Sakharov Prize, awarded every year by the European Parliament to individuals or organisations who have stood up for human rights or fought against intolerance. On September 26, following a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Development committees, it was announced that Tueni had been nominated for the prize to commemorate the sacrifices of several prominent Lebanese figures who have been assassinated: Rafiq Hariri, Basil Lléhan, Samir Kassir, George Haoni and Gebrane Tueni. The winner of this year's Sakharov Prize will be chosen by the Conference of Presidents in October.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* 21 NEW PROJECTS TO RECEIVE ANNA LINDH FOUNDATION FUNDING
Twenty-one projects have been selected for funding in the framework of the second round of the Anna Lindh Foundation Call for Proposals. The projects cover the six thematic priorities approved by the Anna Lindh Foundation Board of Governors: “Euro-Med music and other cultural/artistic creation”, "Euro-Med schools programme", "Euro-Med teams of young researchers", "Summer schools/exchange programmes (artists in residence)" , "Libraries, promotion of books and reading, translation" and "Intercultural exchanges for women in civil society organisations". The projects were proposed by organisations in Italy (6 in total) Denmark (2), France (3), the Palestinian Territories (3), Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Malta, Cyprus and Turkey. Together with seven projects selected earlier this year, the 21 new proposals awarded by the Anna Lindh Foundation involve more than 150 institutions and organisations in 26 Euro-Mediterranean countries. More information can be found at www.euromedalex.org
VESSEL TRAFFIC MONITORING AND INFORMATION SYSTEM (VTMIS) INFORMATION DAY (11 OCTOBER 2006)
Around twenty government officials from the Mediterranean region are expected to participate in VTMIS Information Day which the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) is organising on 11 October 2006 at the Capitaneria di Porto in Trieste in collaboration with the Italian Coast Guard.
VTMIS Info Day is taking place within the framework of the EU-funded MEDA Regional Project “Euromed Cooperation on Maritime Safety and Prevention of Pollution from Ships – SAFEMED”, which is being implemented by REMPEC in the ten Euromed Mediterranean partner countries. Other Mediterranean coastal states, contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, have also been invited to participate.
The main objectives of VTMIS Info Day are to familiarise participants with the latest developments in VTMIS, in particular the EC’s SafeSeaNet project, and to enable them to benefit from the experience of the EU Member States and other non-EU Member States that have already developed and implemented VTMIS, in particular within the Mediterranean region. A number of speakers, including officials from REMPEC, the European Commission, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), government officials from Italy, Greece, France and Turkey and other experts, are expected to deliver presentations during this one-day event.
Implementation of the €4 million SAFEMED Project started at the beginning of this year and will run for three years. SAFEMED, which is being implemented by REMPEC under the overall coordination of the European Commission and with technical backstopping from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), came about because of the EU’s interest in developing Euro-Mediterranean co-operation in the field of maritime safety and security and prevention of pollution from ships, by providing technical advice and support to its Mediterranean partners. The primary objective of the SAFEMED project is to mitigate the existing imbalance in the application of maritime legislation in the region between the EU Member States and its Mediterranean partners by promoting a coherent, effective and uniform implementation of the relevant international conventions and rules aimed at better protection of the marine environment in the Mediterranean region. Further information is available on SAFEMED’s website www.safemedproject.org.
* PRAISE FOR INAUGURAL GENERATION BIG SCREEN SEMINAR
Participants have hailed the 1st Training Seminar for Cinema Distribution and Exhibition Professionals from the MEDA countries a success. The event, organised by the Generation Big Screen project, ,a project that forms part of the regional MEDA-funded programme, Euromed Audiovisual II, took place in Venice from August 28 to September 7, in parallel with the celebrated Venice Film Festival.
The training included formal lectures on economics and digital technology and a wide variety of hands-on case studies. The profiles of the 15 participants from Israel, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Morocco ranged from top executives of cinema consortia from Egypt, Jordan and Syria to entrepreneurs in the process of opening art-house cinemas in Tangiers, Jerusalem and Istanbul.
“The 12 days of the seminar in Venice were lovely! They were hectic but full of information and remarkably organized - an unforgettable memory for me,” said one Turkish participant.
Another participant from Israel said, “The combination of skilful trainers and tutors together with the trainees from Europe and the Mediterranean has really widened my knowledge and empowered me with skills that will help me in the future activities of our distribution company”.
* EUROMED SEMINAR PRESENTS EU PUBLIC PROCUREMENT POLICY
A 5-day seminar was held in Seville, Spain from September 18-22 in the framework of the regional Training and Consultancy Programme on Public Administration for the Mediterranean Partners. The programme, financed by MEDA, aims to provide training on European affairs to Civil Servants from the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East, while envisaging the creation of a network of training centres in public administration between the Euro-Mediterranean Partners. The objective of this latest seminar was to give participants a clear overview of EU public procurement policy and to pave the way for the development of a good working relationship on the issue among MEDA officials and EU Institutions/Member States. For more information: http://www.eipa.nl
* FEMISE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
During its annual conference in Marseille, France on September 28-29 2006, the FEMISE (Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes) network presented 12 studies on issues identified as priorities for the future of the Euro-Mediterranean region: agriculture issue; development and treatment of poverty; health and labour policies; education, training and role of women in society; integration and cooperation among the countries of the southern Mediterranean and the role of the state. Twelve research teams were chosen by the network, currently more than 60 member institutes, to present to the annual conference their latest studies and to debate the content and approach of their research papers. Once finalised, these studies will be made available on the network’s website. The conference also gave the coordinators of the network – the Economic Research Forum (Cairo) and the Institut de la Méditerranée (Marseille) – an opportunity to present to all members of the network a draft of the FEMISE 2006 Annual Report as well as the report on “The Role of Women in the Economy” which was recently drawn up by the network at the request of the European Commission. Both reports will shortly be made available in French and English on the network’s website: http://www.femise.org
Brussels,10 09 2006