* The European Commission on 9 April announced it was providing a further € 15 million in humanitarian aid for the Palestinian victims of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The aid will support provision of food, medicines, water and sanitation to meet the needs of the most vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The funds will be made available through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). Unemployment in the Palestinian Territories stands at 50%, and 60% of Palestinians live in poverty.
* The Egyptian People’s Assembly ratified the EU-Egypt Association Agreement on 7 April. The Agreement had been signed in June 2001. So far it has been ratified by 5 EU Member States (Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden), as well as the European Parliament. European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten stated on 9 April: “The Association Agreement is now well on track to enter into force in 2004 when ratification by all Member States of the European Union should be completed.”
* The Quartet Envoys met on 3 April in Brussels to discuss implementation/monitoring mechanisms for the Roadmap. The Quartet is made up of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and Russia. The EU was represented by Special Envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos.
* Egypt’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs (International Economic Co-operation) Abdul Lateef will be in Brussels on 10 and 11 April to attend the Brussels Economic Forum. He will use the opportunity to meet a number of Senior Officials in the European Commission Directorates in charge of External Relations, Trade, and Economic and Financial Affairs.
* The 42nd EU-Turkey Association Council will meet at Ministerial Level on 15 April in Luxembourg. The state of EU-Turkey relations under the Association Agreement and the Customs Union is the main point on the agenda. In an informal session Ministers will discuss Turkey’s Accession Strategy, and they will have an exchange of views on international issues of common interest, notably Iraq and the Middle East.
* The EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee will hold its 23rd meeting on 22 and 23 April in Nicosia. Final preparations for the meeting were made by the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee on 9 April in Strasbourg, France.
* The European Parliament (EP) Delegation for relations with the Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union met on 9 April in Strasbourg, France. Delegation members had an exchange of views on the ‘Wider Europe’ Commission Communication, the recent visit to Algiers by Commission President Romano Prodi, and Free Movement of people and Illegal Immigration, in the presence of Algerian Ambassador H.E. Halim Benattallah, and Commission representatives.
* The European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel met on 9 April in Strasbourg, France. Delegation Members had an exchange of views on a proposed visit to Israel from 17 to 21 May.
* Experts on Economic Transition in the Southern Mediterranean will hold their 7th annual meeting on 23 and 24 April in Brussels to discuss ‘The Economic Impact of EU Enlargement on the Mediterranean Partners: Opportunities and Challenges’. Participants will be representatives and academics from EU Member States, Mediterranean Partners, and for the first time acceding and candidate countries. European Commission officials will also be present. Subjects to be addressed include trade, investment, public financial flows, and migration. The meeting will help prepare the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers’ Meetings to be held in Crete and Naples in May and December.
* The High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures held its 2nd meeting on 9 April in Brussels to discuss the ‘North-North’ aspects of the Dialogue, notably the situation of immigrants in the EU. The meeting was co-chaired by Moroccan law professor Assia Alaoui Bensalah, and French journalist Jean Daniel, and took place in the presence of European Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding. The Advisory Group comprising 17 intellectuals from both shores of the Mediterranean was set up in January on the initiative of European Commission President Romano Prodi. It will hold further meetings on the ‘North-South’ and ‘South-South’ aspects of the Dialogue between Cultures later this year before presenting conclusions to the Commission.
* Technical discussions on agriculture between Israel and the EU took place at experts’ level on 8 April in Brussels. The meeting was part of negotiations aiming at further farm trade liberalisation under the agricultural chapter of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. More discussions will have to be held to complete the new framework of EU-Israel agricultural trade.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* 2ND MEDEA DOCUMENTARY TRAINING MODULE
The 2nd Documentary Training Module of the MEDA funded MEDEA project will take place from 23 to 29 April in Athens, Greece, involving 25 production companies from the Euro-Mediterranean region. The session will be devoted to the financing and legal aspects of documentary development. As one of 6 projects making up the Euromed Audiovisual Regional Programme, MEDEA provides support to the pre-production of a total of 75 documentary and fiction films for both cinema and television.
* TRAINING MODULE ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN THE MAGHREB
The 3rd Training Module to be held within the EU funded project ‘Positive Actions on Citizen’s Rights for Women, and Equal Opportunities in the Maghreb’ is taking place from 7 to 12 April in Tunis. The training session enables Maghreb women living in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and France to exchange experiences among themselves and with Italian women. The Module is entitled ‘Work, Identity and Citizenship for Young Maghreb Women: Communication, Information and Management Practices in favour of Women’s Rights in Euro-Mediterranean Civil Society’. The 3-year ‘Positive Actions’ project is part of the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. It is co-ordinated by Italy’s Mediterranean Institute (IMED), and involves women’s groups, trade unions, and NGOs in the Maghreb.
* MEDA FUNDS FOR UPGRADING 1,500 ALGERIAN SMES
A financing agreement worth € 18 million was signed on 6 April in Algiers by Algeria’s Employer Confederation, and the MEDA funded Support Programme to the country’s small businesses (Euro-PME) for the upgrading of 1,500 Algerian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ceremony took place in the presence of Algeria’s Minister for Public Works Amar Ghoul, and European Commission Head of Delegation Lucio Guerrato. The upgrading operation will entail establishing a ‘diagnosis’ and reinforcing expertise in 9 industrial branches (mechanics and metal; agri-food; electricity and electronics; chemicals; textiles; clothing; building materials; leather and footwear; wood and furniture).
* WIDER EUROPE AND INDUSTRIAL MODERNISATION IN TUNIS
An International Conference on ‘Free Trade Area: the Challenge of Competitiveness’ is taking place on 10 and 11 April in Tunis on the initiative of the European Commission Delegation in Tunisia in co-operation with Tunisia’s Ministry for Industry and Energy. The Conference focuses on the MEDA funded Euro-Tunisie-Entreprise (ETE) Programme of support to the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises, and enables the sharing of know-how and experiences between candidate countries and Mediterranean Partners. For further information please contact the Conference secretariat (tel +216 71 847092 –
* THE GDP OF THE MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERS
Most Mediterranean Partners in 2001 experienced either a fall in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or a deceleration in economic growth. All the details by country and by branch of activity are to be found in the latest ‘Statistics in focus’ publication issued by the EU Statistical Office (Eurostat) under the title ‘The GDP of the Mediterranean partner countries’. Figures in the publication have been compiled under MED-NA (National Accounts), a sub-programme of the MEDA funded MEDSTAT Regional Programme of statistical co-operation.
* EU ENLARGEMENT AND TURKEY IN NEW EUROMESCO PAPERS
Two new papers, one on ‘Eastern Enlargement and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: A Win-Win Game?’ and the other on ‘The Role of Turkey in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership’ have been recently published by the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Network of Foreign Policy Institutes (EuroMeSCo). Both papers are available on the EuroMeSCo website:
In addition, a new discussion forum topic has been introduced on the same website: The implications of the war in Iraq for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
* LATEST NEWS FROM TUNISIA’S BUSINESS CENTRE
The latest issue (No 8) of ETE-NEWS, the Newsletter of Tunisia’s MEDA funded Business Centre Euro-Tunisie Entreprise, has been published recently. Two of the main highlights are the financing of small business in Tunisia, and the computerisation of external trade procedures.
Brussels,04 14 2003
European Union Redaction